It’s important to talk about affordable housing

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I am writing to respond to reactionary language here in response to the mayor’s recent State of the City address.

Mayor Learnard brought up Affordable Housing, which unfortunately is becoming another wedge term/issue despite us all needing an attainable place to live.

I usually respond directly to my elected/appointed officials, and avoid the vulnerability that comes with these kinds of letters that can spin into conspiracies. However, I wanted to publicly thank her for her bravery in calling out issues that impact so many of us, our families, and our friends.

Houses are getting more unaffordable for many income brackets and will impact future savings and quality of life for people starting careers, low-income workers, families, and seniors.

There is currently a house for sale down the street from me that is 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1,300 square feet (possibly “flipped” by an investor) for $425,000 — pretty much the price my husband and I paid for our larger house when we moved here almost 6 years ago. That is an $80,000 down payment and over $2,000 per month for mortgage before utilities/taxes.

In thinking of all of the households that might need/want that size house to be close to jobs or family here in PTC, that smaller house may be out of reach.

If someone buys the house as a rental, roommates might be able to make it work. (PTC allows up to 3 people unrelated by family to live with each other, so the Golden Girls or 4 college-friends would be illegal even with a bigger house).

However, many families with young children have childcare bills and lots of seniors are on fixed-incomes, putting people in a position of paying a huge part of their budget for the roof over their head and just getting by (instead of being able to save for college/training, retirement, a rainy day).

Many of us have not had these prices to contend with, even a few years ago, and communities need to be proactive as a large segment of the population ages and young people struggle to become self-sufficient.

This problem is everywhere, and I believe it is unfair to get negative about other jurisdictions providing housing options that support PTC or Fayette workers (e.g., teachers that can only afford living in Henry County, or fast-food employees that need a nearby apartment in Fayetteville).

There are ways to focus on our built environment to add more options to live and work in a sustainable way (e.g., a mix of well-designed housing types, efficient use of land, quality rental accommodations).

I support decision-makers here and in our state working to address runaway housing costs for hard-working people.

Stephanie Wagner

Peachtree City, Ga.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Wagner wrote an earlier letter to the editor during the city council elections campaigns endorsing mixed-use developments for consideration in Peachtree City.]

28 COMMENTS

  1. I’m an eighth generation resident of Fayette County… at least I was until fayette county commissioners sold us out to Hollywood.

    I can no longer afford to even consider living in my ancestral hometown due to the fact that more than half the homeless in the county are not owner occupied.

    The latest rental home I occupied wasn’t even owned by a US citizen.

    I find this deeply troubling. Not only is this true here but in our nation as a whole.

    EVERY single family home that hits the market in my price range is snatched up by investors.

    I have no fond feelings toward investors at all. Nor do most residents.
    property investors but these properties and since they live across the nation they intrust their investments to these slimy property management firms who allow the homeless to rot, they don’t maintain the homes and it affects every one of us in a negative fashion.

    If you can’t see the heater societal issues that come with all these investor owned properties maybe you’re one of them and thus part of the bigger problem.

    Investors are ruthless money hungry slum Lord’s and they’re destroying our nation.

    THERE I SAID WHAT I SAID!

  2. Ms. Wagner – I applaud you for a well-written letter – but I disagree with your conclusions in this as well as previous letters you’ve submitted to The Citizen. Peachtree is unique, desirable, and has avoided many of the pitfalls of urbanization because we are NOT like other rapidly growing areas that build endless apartments, multi-family housing developments, townhomes, etc. As someone who lived in Henry County years ago, I saw the havoc created when these policies were enacted unabated – Henry County and especially McDonough today does not resemble the area that existed in the early 2000’s. Postage-stamp sized lots and endless apartment complexes have flooded that area with population growth and development – which is good if that’s your end game. But the negatives – in my opinion – have outweighed the positives. Henry County’s roads are clogged and traffic is a nightmare especially on the main thoroughfares that connect to I-75. Schools have become full and caused new schools to be built, driving up the taxes and expenses of the county. And in my opinion – the quality of life is not what it was 20 years ago. Thus the reason we left and moved here in the late 2000’s.

    Peachtree City is unique – and because we are different and offer a stable residential population with minimal apartments and slow, managed growth of housing – the end product is we are more and more unique and desirable every day to people who are deciding where to live. Affordable housing should not be the goal – maintaining a high quality of life and high property values should be. Affordable housing is a nice buzzword to aspire to, especially if one has political ambitions, but in reality no one in Peachtree City (aside probably from real estate agents or from people who see what we have here but are on the fringe of being able to afford it) is clamoring for more lower-priced homes. There may be a place for more affordable housing – but if we want to maintain what we have here in Peachtree City, inside the city limits is not that place.

  3. Oh Lord. Living in PTC is a privilege, not a right. If you can’t afford to live here, that is your problem, not the government’s problem.

    Go live somewhere else with housing that is affordable considering your personal finances and budget constraints.

    Typical Democrat/Socialism/Woke garbage

    • “Typical Democrat/Socialism/Woke Garbage”…from Jesus the Christ—

      I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you…told me “Go live somewhere else with housing that is affordable,,,”!
      (Matthew 25:42 and 43, The Message Version, with my addition).

      “Oh Lord” indeed.

        • Dear Doug—
          May I suggest it is not “God’s Word” that condemns us, but rather our own (expressed in no uncertain terms here).

          Surely we are better than “if you can’t afford to live here, that is your problem”.

          Our hearts, and our city, are bigger than that.

          • Thank you Suz, and I agree. Christ offers grace, not shame. “Bible-thumping” doesn’t get it and never has achieved its intended purpose.

            Peachtree City residents have legitimate concerns when they feel they are pushed to open their neighborhoods to what is customarily called affordable housing. Affordable housing is like nearly everything else, “if you build it they will come.” So do commercial and private investors who purchase homes in our neighborhoods as business opportunities to create profits, not for the residents who will eventually live in/on those properties, but for themselves.

            For many, a third or more of their net worth and retirement is tied up in their homes. Many of the same people are getting too old to rebuild their retirement income. As we see inflation taking a bigger chunk of our income, we naturally can feel sensitive about affordable housing.

            With all that said, Peachtree City seems to me to have always been a profit making venture and all of us living here have drank the punch. If I point my finger at anyone, three fingers are pointing at me.

          • Hello Again, Doug—
            I appreciate your measured and kind response.

            Your description of the retirees in PTC (and their financial concerns) are similar to my own. I share their concerns.

            However, I worry that our fear (of “the other”, in this case) can make us callous and uncaring.

            We all proudly point out the pleasures of living in Peachtree City (and rightfully so). I hope a welcoming inclusivity could be added to the list.

          • Suz, Doug – If having enough money to buy, maintain and pay taxes on a home in PTC is not the correct standard, what should it be?

            If the competitive real estate market is not the right way to set home prices, how do you propose it should it be done?

  4. In 2015, the Obama administration instituted the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations. President Trump killed this action that claimed diversity was the goal when in reality, the only diversity they wanted was more Democrate voters in red districts. With our current Manturian candidate in the White House, those regulations are again in play. Now, to be real if Coweta or the rest of Fayette move towards this goal, what we do in PTC is irrelevant. so, what’s really at play here? I don’t like to ascribe motives but our current mayor is clearly a political animal and forcing low income housing into this city in particular would be a major feather in her cap.

    We should put a gateway over every major road into PTC with our city’s name emblazoned so that at least visitors will know that when they recognize how different is our town from the surrounding sprawl, they will know our name.

    The choice is this: maintain what makes PTC special…lakes, recreation, neighborhoods as a gem in the Southern Cresent or join the sprawl and land rush to enrich a few at the cost of the city and change from a polished gem in a field of drab rocks to just another rock.

    Better to have 50 houses of higher value on the market than to add 500 high density dwellings, 50% of which will be rentals and most of them eligible for Section 8 Federal subsidies.

    Don’t Fulton Fayette County!

  5. Likewise, appreciate putting yourself out there, and hopefully we can keep this civil even if we disagree. My.02 raised most of the issues quite well from my perspective.

    The key question many of us want answered is – does this make PTC a better or worse place to live for those us who are already here? If we can’t get people to fill essential jobs because of this issue, fine, we should look at options. But if it just means they live 10-15 miles away, it’s not a problem.

    And if you say it’s selfish to look at it this way, I disagree. If we’re talking about people with no place to live or in desperate straits that’s very different from “we have to live 5 miles outside of PTC until we get more established financially”. Not being able to afford to live in the neighborhood or house you desire isn’t a tragedy, in fact it’s a fact of life for most people until they’ve put in a lot of years.

  6. The housing market is cyclical. If one researches historical housing affordability indices, we are actually in a more affordable position than we were in the early 1980s. It’s indicative of an economic inflationary period.

    Having carefully listened to our Honorable Mayor’s State of the City Address, I cannot say she supports affordable housing initiatives for Peachtree City. As veiwed through my politically cynical lens, I believe she wants to “decide what it means when we say Peachtree City has something for everyone.” For me, it has no meaning. I don’t think Peachtree City needs to provide something for everyone and her State of the City Address was the first time in over 30 years I heard someone imply it should.

  7. There is a reason why housing is becoming unaffordable for many income brackets. Can you explain why?
    And I noticed an Agenda 2030 key word “sustainable.”

    https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda-retired/

    Perhaps moving to Chattanooga or San Jose where “Smart cities” aka Concentration camps..
    are being implemented would be a better fit? This makes me wonder why a monstrosity of a data center is being built?

    https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/wuf9.html

    “You will own nothing and be happy.” – Klaus Schwab

    https://www.weforum.org/about/klaus-schwab/

    • Oooh, Fiona you know who actually said, “You will own nothing and be happy”?

      St. Francis of Assisi! This was WAY MORE his worldview than it is Klaus Schwab’s! In fact, Francis saw possessions as anchors weighing you down, and, you know, he seemed very happy without them!

      But just to be pedantic, Klaus Schwab and the WEF don’t want to take your possessions

      That quote actually says, “You will own nothing and be happy. Whatever you want you’ll rent, and it’ll be delivered by drone,” and it was written by the ebullient and knowledgeable Danish politician Ida Auken in 2016 in an article for a WEF publication as her “utopia or dream of the future.” She says she “wrote this piece to start a discussion about some of the pros and cons of the current technological development.”

      (Sadly, the article has been removed from the WEF website because unhinged conspiracy theorists not only blamed Schwab for trying to Great Reset the h*ll out of them, but they targeted poor Ms Auken just for dreaming of a future where we’re all as happy as St Francis! Can you imagine?!)

      See, she is not trying to take away your things! And neither is Klaus Schwab. Be easy, baby, ain’t nothing worth stealing in here.

      • Wrong. St Francis never said, “You will own nothing and be happy”. Back in the 1200s, he dedicated himself to a life of poverty and and service, and set up an order of friars who also chose that life.

        The quote is correctly attributed to the World Economic Forum, which is dedicated to the Great Reset: “… the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism.” “Now Is The Time For A Great Reset”, World Economic Forum, 6/3/2020

        So while St Francis wanted each to make a voluntarily abandon their wealth, the WEF wants to use government powers to “transform” the US, which will radically change our lives. Big difference between the two.

        • Ha ha ha! .02, I was being a little mischievous and being like Fiona in misattributing the quote to St Francis and then correctly attributing it to Ida Auken, as you will see in my comment if you re-read it.

          I can see why you found it confusing! Schwab probably never even heard that quote in his life; the quote came from an article Ms. Auken wrote and which the WEF had to take down because conspiracy theory wackos were threatening Ida because she wrote a whimsical article about how she saw technology shaping the future. It had NOTHING — ZERO — ZIP — NADA to do with WEF plans to take away your things!

          As you will see, if you re-read my previous comment.

          The quote (You will have nothing and be happy) also has nothing to do with Schwab’s book The Great Reset, although I agree with your quotation! If ONLY we would heed Klaus’ advice and “act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions.”

          Imagine a world where a Great Reset of capitalism made it impossible for 85% of the world’s wealth to be hoarded in the hands of 10% of the world’s population. Imagine a Great Reset where the top 10% of families in the US couldn’t have 20 times the wealth of the average US family.

          I agree that St Francis wouldn’t force anyone into poverty, but neither will the WEF, my friend. Look how ineffective they’ve been so far! Klaus Schwab isn’t the boogie man.

          SUZ: thanks for the kind words! As I mentioned above, it wasn’t a DIRECT quote from St. Francis, but his way of life certainly makes it look as if owning nothing and being happy go hand in hand. As a pauper idiot myself, can confirm! ❤️

          • People ran that experiment where the wise & wonderful politicians and bureaucrats would manage everything & make sure everybody got just the right amount several times last century.

            Misery, oppression, mass graves, millions dead from famine – other than that…

  8. Stephanie – High Five to you for having the courage to put your thoughts into a Letter to the Editor. I too think we need to talk about housing affordability since the mayor made it a priority for the city, but unfortunately without any rationale or facts.

    I agree with you that “this problem is everywhere”, but that’s part of the questions I have with affordability as a city priority. Everyone has to live somewhere, and there will always be a mismatch between a paycheck and a more desirable place to live.

    There are still some questions that you and the mayor did not answer:

    As many have asked – what is the definition of “affordable”? Doesn’t that take us down a rabbit hole where we have to look at each individual’s life and financial situation? And mortgage interest rates?

    What is an “affordable housing unit”? My assumption is that the mayor does not want to drive down current property values to reach the affordability goal, but she recently took new apartments off the table for PTC, so that limits the options.

    Why, exactly, is this PTC’s issue to solve?

    If it is solved, what is the benefit to current PTC residents?

    What is the goal in terms of number or percentage of “affordable” units in PTC that would make us feel good about doing it?

    Can our public infrastructure handle these new units, or will more taxes be required?

    Again, my thanks for adding to the dialogue. Looking forward to the mayor’s and your replies so I might decide to withdraw my head from the sand, or not.