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Raise the roof on affordable housing

| June 12, 2022 1:00 AM

The white flag of surrender is flying over Camp Coeur d’Alene.

At least, in City Councilman Dan Gookin’s opinion it is.

Gookin recently decried the unaffordable housing crisis as a lost cause, and even with home prices finally cooling off and trending downward, it’s hard to argue with Dan.

According to Rocket Homes, the Kootenai County median home price plunged 31% from April to May. And yet, that still left the price at $521,000.

Assuming you still need 20% down to walk through that median-type door, you need the wherewithal to write a check for $104,200. Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you could do that?

The Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors' market statistics for May paint a slightly different picture. The regional group's data shows single family home prices in the county actually rose by 1.6% since April to a median price of $559,000.

We know this sounds like a broken record. It’s also overwhelming to see the huge gap between what most residents earn and what it costs to live here — never mind homeownership. According to RentData.org, Fair Market Rent prices in the Coeur d’Alene area were more expensive than 87% of other fair market rent areas nationally last year.

Because North Idaho is likely to remain a highly attractive place for transplants and inventory will struggle to keep up with demand, the price balloon can’t deflate much. But does that mean everyone should simply tsk-tsk, shrug shoulders and bow down to that white flag?

Not by a long shot. The more attention our community can focus on the problem, the more likely some alternatives can be birthed.

There are a lot of smart people here, capable of sound research and making adjustments to fit the unique nature of our community. If a magnanimous nature doesn’t tilt the scales toward broader affordability, perhaps the self-interest of wanting family members nearby and/or a stronger workforce will prevail.

Our request to everyone reading this editorial is to consider how you can contribute to the discussion. Have you lived somewhere that had some wins in the affordable housing war? Maybe you know someone who has and can pass along what they’ve imparted.

While a renewed effort to lead the way out of this darkness is under way now, please share your ideas on these pages. Write to letters@cdapress.com and let’s bring that white flag down together.

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