Columnist contributes to class bias
Dear Editor:Roger Marolt’s proposal to kill Burlingame and buy free-market units with the same funds would house about two dozen families rather than the 226 to be served by Burlingame.In his column, Mr. Marolt proposes that the housing authority invest about $600,000 each in condominiums while local employees would invest $300,000 each and employers could contribute another $300,000 to meet a typical $1.2 million price tag.Given that the total price of Burlingame is about $16 million, that means the alternative investment at $600,000 per unit would create 26 housing opportunities.One of the justifications for this scheme is that it would eliminate the lottery and provide certainty to housing aspirants by making these units available on a first-come, first-serve basis.He writes, “This new system is based strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis. The minute you come to town, you put your name on the list. You can track your progress and make good estimates as to when it will be your turn to buy a unit.”That certainly is true. With 26 units being made available over the next decade, the thousand-plus hopefuls who have entered lotteries in the last two years would be certain that they weren’t going to be allowed the same stake in the community that Mr. Marolt’s family enjoys. The “first-come, first-serve” rule he proposes would enfranchise about 2 percent of the hopefuls, those with 25 years or more of residency. Of course, this assumes that Toni Kronberg and company won’t pull the rug out from the program.In addition, the $300,000 to $400,000 “employee contribution” he proposes means that the housing would not be available to most employees. To qualify for a loan of $300,000 at about 7 percent requires an income of about $85,000 per year, well above the median household income of $60,000 for affordable housing residents.Here’s more good news for employees who wait 25 years for the chance to mortgage themselves up to their eyeballs to buy a condominium in partnership with their employers:”Employers could pay lower cash salaries to key employees. They would effectively be investing in Aspen real estate rather than dripping away their profits on higher wages.” Along with the $2,000 a month mortgage, you get a lower salary! And, if you quit your job or get outsourced, maybe a chance to start all over again looking for a home! Sounds a lot like the “private investment accounts” Social Security plan to me. Finally, Mr. Marolt offers a now familiar piece of class bias when he asserts without foundation, as have others before him, that we who live in affordable housing are “completely lacking” any incentive to take care of and maintain our homes.Mr. Marolt should get out more often to Williams Woods, Five Trees or my neighborhood more often. My neighbors and friends in those areas have done wonderful things with landscaping and improvements. More than one out-of-town visitor has inquired about how he or she could buy one of these nice units.Those who believe the sole and most important meaning of life is economic gain need to put down their well-worn copies of “The Fountainhead” and smell the flowers that grow in response to the pride, generosity and sheer love of beauty that flourishes in my neighborhood and others like it.Mick IrelandHOPEAspen
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