County Commissioners and Lincoln City City Council explore helping each other help Lincoln County citizens
As is common for these kinds of meetings, discussions between the Lincoln County Commissioners and Lincoln City City Councilors launched into thinking out loud how each group could help each other get more work done for the people of the county.
Right off the top were discussions about the country’s coast to coast housing crisis – County Commissioners Bill Hall and Doug Hunt lamenting that so much of the crisis is out of the hands of local governments. They said a big part of the crunch is due to the severity of the last economic recession that ran from 2008 clear through to 2013. But now that the recession is pretty much over, those who used to build homes are gone – and the ones that remain are building mainly homes for the well-off.
However, there was some news that assistance is available from the federal and state levels by giving the extreme wealthy an income tax break by investing in affordable housing. The program has been very successful in a number of areas of Oregon and another cycle of funding to subsidize multi-family housing is coming back around. But at the same time, Commissioner Hall said despite this help, which is vital, it’s nowhere near enough to make any real difference. In short, we’re stuck in a “little bit of this,” state bonding and a “little bit of that from the federal government. And with the President of the Federal Reserve forecasting more rate increases in the prime lending rate, it doesn’t look encouraging. Regardless of how far down prices can be pushed for affordable housing, if the borrowing rate continues to climb, those who need housing the most won’t be able to afford it.
In the meantime low to moderate income families will continue to pay more and more for what housing they can find, leaving very little left at the end of the month for food, gas or savings for the kids’ college education. And then there’s the issue of health are – if they even have employer provided medical insurance. Now there’s another dark cloud hanging over millions of families including a fair share of the population of Lincoln City. They’re finding that “Access” to health care does not guarantee affordable health care due to limitations defined in co-pays, deductibles and caps.
Moving right along…
The commissioners and councilors learned that raising the height of a bridge on East Devils Lake Road, which would complete a project to keep the road from flooding over in the winter, probably won’t happen for a couple more years. The county needs to let it’s transportation fund fill back up for the costly fix. But once it’s done, it’ll be good for many years.
County Commissioners and City Councilors also learned about a re-do of a culvert on Logan Road. The culvert has to be upsized greatly in order to handle floodwaters better. However, the upsizing will be a little tricky in that the culvert will have to be bigger and be planted in the ground more deeply to accommodate fisheries, including a salmon run that used to flow along the river to the sea. They learned that state law requires quite the upgrade to ensure the culvert improvement will benefit the fish as well as averting flooding. That project should move forward in the very near future.
And getting back to the county’s homeless dilemma, city councilors told the commissioners that the city this week awarded over $130,000 in city funds to groups largely devoted to helping the homeless or, with those barely sheltered, having enough food just to live. The commissioners commended those efforts but also acknowledged that the crisis is not shrinking – it’s growing daily.