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Comp plan must address affordable housing

December 14, 2017

Because of out-of-state travel commitments, I was unable to attend Sussex County Council's Dec. 13 Public Comment Workshop on the Housing element (chapter) of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan. I did submit my comments under the Housing chapter at sussexplan.com so that our council members would be aware of my position on this critically important topic. Housing and food security are interdependent, comprising two of our most basic human needs, the needs of all Sussex County residents.

Section 8.3.5 of the Housing Element states, "Sussex County has an Affordable Housing Support Policy and supports the development of affordable housing in Sussex County." However, at the present time inclusionary affordable housing ordinances are not mandatory. This is the crux of the problem.

As long as the county maintains its position that providing its residents with affordable rental and housing-purchase opportunities is optional for all stakeholders, the housing problems currently confronting Sussex residents will only continue to grow.

Contrary to the position recently voiced by one of our councilmen, it is possible to create affordable inclusionary housing in all areas of the county. To ignore this reality merely reflects a profound lack of imagination, as well as the historic lack of political will to address the housing needs of all segments of Sussex's population. The 2018 Comprehensive Plan must lay the groundwork for our council to draft, and adopt, mandatory ordinances to address Sussex's workforce housing needs.

I urge Sussex County Council to immediately research and adopt creative approaches to addressing the housing needs of all economic segments of our population. Within our county and state, knowledgeable stakeholders concerned with Sussex's housing crisis have suggested strategies that have been successfully implemented in other forward-thinking jurisdictions across the country. Our councilmen just need to demonstrate the political will necessary to implement these ideas.

Sue Claire Harper
Rehoboth Beach

 

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