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Old 06-13-2018, 04:21 AM
2,133 posts, read 5,099,591 times
Reputation: 1543


This has been a topic that has been discussed more in recent years but this past year there has been a lot more discussion about it:

Valparaiso residents, clergy pushing for movement on affordable housing

Now, for those of us in western Lake County or who came from Illinois suburbs, it may seem odd to hear about the lack of affordable housing in Valpo because relative to those areas, Valpo is very affordable. But we have to remember that even adjusted for the small student population, Valpo does have a higher poverty rate than these other areas and is very diverse (as far as wages and wealth). One issue that has been admitted is that "affordable housing" has not been defined clearly. Do they mean housing affordable for middle-class earners (teachers, firefighters, police, etc.) or for lower-class wage jobs (waiter/waitress, house cleaners, unskilled labor jobs) and then also are we talking about just NEW affordable housing or affordable in general?

Comments online have been interesting. One person pointed out that while there are many homes in Valpo at affordable sale prices, they need a ton of work and are often very old. Others spoke about family members having to move away from Valpo as they age or those who could not afford to return to Valpo as a young family to buy a home. Others spoke about how they could afford Valpo but only with a job in Chicago and then there are much closer and nice options for places to live that are more commutable than Valpo.

Valpo does have quite a bit of affordable housing options as far as apartments go that will accept the section 8 housing choice voucher but waitlists are long and rarely open and it appears to me that most of the support in the city for affordable housing will end up being with regards to middle-class earners being able to buy/build a new home within the city. Now, when you think of the salary of two-middle wage earners, there are many options for suitable homes in the city but for a family where only one person is working, it becomes more difficult (which is anywhere these days). The recently built apartment complex on the east side of town is definitely not "affordable" by regular standards although of course people had concerns that it would be "too affordable". Someone also brought up that Valpo had several upscale subdivisions that seem to have stalled (even accounting for the fact that higher-priced developments generally take longer to develop) but I have heard of this before. Overall, I think that the issue is multifaceted: There is a need for more affordable housing but concern of housing becoming too affordable. Others also asked why some other towns that are more expensive (e.g. Munster, Dyer, Saint John) are not being pushed to have more affordable housing and I think the answer lies in the fact that there are more folks in need in Valpo than in those other areas. I can also speak for Munster and say that with it being built-out and still a very desirable area, any new development will already have higher costs for land or teardown and it would not be as cost effective to build some affordable development in a large-scale. Some folks say "let the market dictate what is needed" but we also know that many developers have had to build more expensive homes because people KNOW that more affordable homes would sell fast and maybe attract a demographic that they do not want and so architectural controls are beefed up. I would add and say that Valpo needs more high-paying jobs in the immediate area because while they are trying to promote the commutability to Chicago, most folks know that this selling point is misleading as it will usually take well over an hour to get from their home in Valpo to their office in the loop.

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