In our opinion: We should all make a big deal out of affordable housing

During a recent discussion about utility rate increases, Langley City Council member Christy Korrow suggested that the city may want to stop making such a big deal out of affordable housing and be honest about the city being an expensive place to live.

“It’s going to continue to get more expensive, and if you can’t handle it, then maybe it’s not the right place,” she said.

The comment comes from a city leader who has supported affordable housing and efforts at inclusiveness, so it’s not fair to say that she’s against these things or doesn’t care about low-income people. But hopefully it will spur a dialogue about what kind of community the Village by the Sea wants to be.

People may feel they are just being realistic in accepting Langley the way it is. But the community can and should move past studying, planning and giving lip service to affordable housing and related concerns and find truly innovative ways to make the city a place accessible to people of different income levels.

In recent years, the community hasn’t exactly embraced projects aimed at providing affordable places to live.

A proposed Habitat for Humanity multi-family project drew criticism from people who said they were concerned about the “process,” which was unusual because there was nothing wrong with the process. Some argued against a ballot measure for the water infrastructure projects because it would lead to affordable housing projects that would change the character of neighborhoods.

Some people on the Island County Planning Commission last year expressed hesitance about plans to support affordable housing. One member said not everyone can live in the county but those who really want to will “work for it.”

It’s understandable that people who love their communities don’t want to see major changes, but such an elitist view comes from blindness to other people’s struggles. Most of the people, for example, who work in Langley’s shops and restaurants, who care for elderly residents and write newspaper stories would qualify to live in affordable housing.

Langley is not the right place for them?

Langley is the city where people lined up night after night to advocate for a sanctuary city ordinance. They said they wanted the city to be a place of inclusiveness and safety, where people of all backgrounds can live together without fear.

As long as they can afford the rent, that is.

It’s good for the economy, the environment, the schools and society if people can live near their jobs, services and schools.

There are no silver bullets and no quick solutions, but we should all continue to make a big deal out of it.

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