The recommendation from the Minot City Council's Finance and Improvements Committee to spend an estimated $487,620 on an affordable housing study makes little sense to us.
We have several issues with the committee's recommendation to the city council.
First, the cost: $487,620? The committee recommends paying for the study with funds from the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds. Surely there are better uses for that money, uses that could provide real help to some area residents who need aid right now in securing "affordable" housing, which is a term that is tossed around all too loosely these days.
Second, the timing. A study on Minot's affordable housing situation would have been great a couple of years ago. The proposed study would, among other things, take public comment to help develop an Affordable Housing Vision, analyze the affordable housing supply and demand in Minot, and develop a report that could be used by elected officials, stakeholders and others to document the current affordable housing needs.
Third, we suspect the study would only confirm what most residents and certainly what most local officials should already know: The affordable housing situation in the Minot area is bleak at best for many residents, including some who were displaced by the flood. Ask college students looking for "affordable" housing. Ask young couples trying to buy their first "affordable" home. Ask retired residents trying to make ends meet on a fixed income.
We're simply not convinced that spending nearly half a million dollars on yet another study is a wise use of federal funding intended to have real impact on the lives of Minot and area residents.