Are the protections afforded by zoning worth being forced into homelessness? Some would say yes, but I disagree. The Buncombe County Commissioners were presented a number of options to fool dufuses like me into thinking they are creating more affordable housing.

  • Taking out a long-term low-interest loan voted on by residents as part of a bond referendum.
  • Principal and interest will still be due from the taxpayers, who might have enjoyed a few extra dollars for rent.

  • Raising property taxes by 0.01 cents to generate an additional $2.9 million. (An increase of $25 a year in taxes on a $250,000 home.)
  • $25 a year is only $2 a month. The good thing about taxes is, unlike things like hay, they don’t cumulate. That is, a million blades of hay, when moved, can clear a patch in a field and make a stack, a million hundredths of a penny in of taxes taken leave no hole in taxpayers’ wallets, and yet somehow give the community and government gazillions in revenue.

  • Giving incentive grants to builders of affordable homes, similar to economic incentives for businesses.
  • I thought all developers were evil. Now, we want to give them corporate welfare. Why, yes, if they fulfill our leaders’ vision. Besides, grants are not, as so many people try to drill into my cranial echo chamber, cash. There is never, ever a need to replace funds from whatever line item the grants were transferred, and they surely weren’t taken out of another hundredth of a penny tax increase. They’re free!

  • Pursuing new private sector partnerships, such as the recent arrangement between the city and developer John McKibbon that included help with affordable home building.
  • Oh, yes. It is good to take money from developers because they just stash it in their sock drawers, never investing it in anything that would free up capital for, say, startup businesses, and they would never consider recovering costs by jacking up rents elsewhere. Developers love to build at a loss. That’s what they’re for.

  • Zoning changes to allow more density.
  • One out of six ain’t bad.

  • Donating land to affordable home builders. (The county would maintain a legal recourse, such as a lien, to ensure long-term affordability.)
  • Donating land and raising taxes to cover the cost of what government might have gotten from the sale to give to the poor makes so much sense.

    To me, five of these strategies are like discovering I have gangrene and having a doctor tell me the only way to cure it is to cut off the supply of blood to neighboring parts of the body, and so on, and so on.