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POINT OF VIEW: Fixing old homes would boost workforce housing


In response to The Palm Beach Post’s Jan. 25 editorial — “County must find solution to workforce housing bind” — I believe there are other approaches which must be utilized in order to solve the county’s workforce housing issue.

It appears that our public officials and policymakers are focusing their attention only on new construction, which can raise many unforeseen issues — including zoning considerations. New construction must be part of the solution, however, there are other approaches to address this important issue.

The Northwood neighborhood of West Palm Beach, my home for nearly 30 years, is saturated with affordable housing-in-the-making. Unfortunately, in Northwood’s case, the reality is such that due to the lack of leadership from the city to reinvest in these types of neighborhoods, the housing stock is in severe need of rehabilitation. With many houses in the $50,000 to $150,000 price range, the homes are more than affordable.

The issue is that the cost of renovating these properties to current codes becomes prohibitive to many interested families.

It would be advantageous to our local jurisdictions to add a new set of tools in the workforce housing tool box which include opportunities for grants and loans, as well as closer coordination with community development corporations, other nonprofit organizations and the banking industry to aid in the cost of rehabilitation.

Focusing on existing homes takes advantage of existing infrastructure, which is a more environmentally sustainable approach that can help to not only solve the workforce housing issue but help restore these neighborhoods.

The end result would expand the city’s — at least in West Palm Beach’s case — and county’s tax base. and reduce the need for excessive code and police enforcement.

ROBERT BEAULIEU, WEST PALM BEACH



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