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More Low Income Housing Could Be Detrimental To The Community


I was a member of the Water Valley Planning Commission from the time it was formed in early 2006 until I joined the staff of the North Mississippi Herald in late 2007. I was asked to serve by Alderman Tommy Swearengen, a member of the city administration headed by Mayor Bill Norris. It was the Norris administration that put the new zoning ordinances in place in 2006.

During my time on the commission, the members were given a course in planning and zoning by Colbert Jones, a professional city planner. One of the important lessons we learned was that the purpose of zoning is to promote the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community, to protect and conserve the value of buildings, and encourage the most appropriate use of the land.

We learned that low-income housing has a place, but only in amounts appropriate for the needs of the community. Water Valley is currently over-supplied with low-income housing. Our community is lucky to have well maintained and well managed public housing. More could be detrimental to the community by attracting additional low-income people who tax resources, especially the school system. That is a fact, not my opinion and comes from federal government information.

Mobile homes are not the problem. While manufactured housing is certainly not the best investment in housing, it is the only alternative for some. Most cities – and Water Valley is one of those – only allow mobile homes in designated zones for the good of the community. The original owners usually keep up the property. But, beyond that, mobile homes deteriorate rapidly and often become a safety hazard and eyesore.

The problem is the modern version of the mobile home park, which is considered the ultimate low-income housing investment. That information is available all over the internet. Here are direct quotes from an article on the so-called benefits from the NuWire Investor website: 

“The sole reason we are in this business is to make money. And mobile home parks have a lengthy track record of delivering good news in the form of beating revenue budgets and keeping expenses low. That’s because you can raise rents constantly, as the customers cannot afford the $5,000 cost to move their mobile home and have no choice but to pay the new amount.”

“Since all other forms of multi-family revolve around owning and renting the dwelling units themselves, you have to keep reminding yourself that your product is only land, and that you don’t have to worry about the homes or the condition that they’re in, unless they present a hazard to public safety.”

If you want to know more about the situation, do an internet search for mobile home parks. One of the important lessons to anyone who might purchase a mobile home is to buy the land and not rent a space in a mobile home park.

Jack Gurner

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