Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Still No SEWRPC-Written Affordable Housing Plan Since Gerald Ford Was President

There was a flurry of interest in regional housing issues this spring, when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission was under fire for a weak urban agenda, in part because it hadn't produced a regional housing plan since 1975.

Well, spring has ended, summer has come and gone, and there is still no definitive announcement from SEWRPC that a regional housing study indeed will be launched.

SEWRPC has been collecting names from groups for possible housing study appointments, but there is no study funding yet in place and the agency has refused to release a study draft because it says the document is in-house material only.

In other words, it is not looking for input into the study work plan - - a typical, inward-looking SEWRPC practice that costs the agency credibility with the public.

I would be glad to learn that the document and the funding and the appointments are late (though, really, 33 years between studies is embarrassing beyond any and all words and excuses and rationalizations) because SEWRPC is trying to incorporate all the cascading events in the housing markets into the study: bad loans, mortgage meltdowns, bank failures, foreclosures, rising unemployment, and so forth.

My guess, however, is that the delays are more tied to bureaucratic inertia, pre-occupation with other issues, and the low priority that affordable housing has across the region.

Though with the economy heading into a recession, or worse, affordable housing could just be the next big mainstream issue across the SEWRPC seven-county region.

SEWRPC could enlighten us all by releasing drafts of the housing study and other documents to show us that a truly detailed, progressive and wide-ranging study is planned, and is about to begin tomorrow.

But I'm not betting on it.

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