We need affordable housing. Vote yes to GO Bond projects.
Las Cruces voters will decide in November whether to approve $23 million in GO bonds.
I will vote yes. I recommend others to do this. These bond issues benefit our community at an extremely low cost.
Here’s why (a) it’s not the almost automatic “yes” of previous years for me, and (b) why I strongly recommend approval.
The $23 million includes $10 million for a new fire station, $2 million for park improvements, and $5 million for the East Mesa Public Recreation Complex. More controversial is $6 million for affordable housing. The new fire station will answer 900 calls a year and help the city maintain its ISO rating, which reflects how prepared a community is for fires. The station encompasses a fast-growing district of nearly 4,000 buildings. East Mesa funding will primarily go to the lights to facilitate evening games on various fields.
i will be honest I’m an old dude trying to keep in shape, pickleball courts get insanely crowded, and if these GO bonds would help with that, I’d be happy with a new Christmas bike as a kid. You will not help. I’m pissed off. Pickleball players lobbied hard and got stiff. Pickleball courts are incredibly used.
But low-income people who need affordable housing are in a lot worse shape than I am. In addition, the money can be reused. It will go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF), a revolving loan fund that provides flexible, low-interest loans to qualifying borrowers. These loans are only approved if there are appropriate funds from the NM Mortgage Authority or other sources. Any money we lend to Smith we’ll probably get back, with some interest, to lend to or build with Jones.
I worried that the Mesilla Valley Public Housing Authority would take over. MVPHA failed to hire a manager for the Desert Hope Apartments and then walled off reporters who asked serious questions. No authority should be that arrogant.
But MVPHA does not run this program. The city will look over its shoulder with an advisory panel, requiring public votes by the city council for action. MVPHA could be a grantee; but cooler heads note that the agency owns several other housing companies in the city, apparently without making such mistakes there. All projects are advertised competitively.
Affordable housing is a pressing concern. I disagree with people who say it’s none of our business. It is. No, you or I did not cause the problem; But the system we support and are comfortable with has helped create the economic conditions that make buying a home so difficult. So it seems right to get involved in making things better. And a higher percentage of homeowners improves a city. Affordable housing also creates local construction jobs and improves community health and public safety.
In addition, we all benefit in many ways from neighborhoods with parks. GO bonds are investments in Las Cruces. Inexpensive investments.
People complain that the GO bonds could drive our taxes up. They won’t. Rather, forgoing these GO bonds would result in a reduced allocation of our property tax for servicing the new bonds’ debt. While I await a clear answer from the city, my best guess is that the owner of a $200,000 home paying $1,500 in property taxes could save $80 to $90 annually if we vote no—on Fourth of this is due to affordable housing.
If my $24 a year helps house someone—or more—they’re welcome. I am glad to help. Plus, this fire station could help us save on home insurance—or even save lives!
More from Peter Goodman:
A resident of Las Cruces, Peter Goodman writes, photographs, and occasionally practices law. His blog at http://soledadcanyon.blogspot.com/ has more information on this Pillar.