Rep. Mike Simpson is to be commended for going above and beyond to assist local low- and middle-income families as area housing prices continue to skyrocket.
Wages are rising, a welcome change after two decades of stagnation. But home prices and rent in Idaho Falls and surrounding communities are rising even faster, in the neighborhood of 20% per year, putting an ever-greater share of the local community at risk of housing insecurity. A starter home now often sells for more than $300,000, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment often exceeds $1,100.
Solving this problem means building a lot of new housing, and it will require solutions from local government and the private sector to fix it. Quite simply, we need to build a whole lot of housing quickly for the influx of new people moving to the area so that we don’t have too many people chasing too few houses and apartments.
Communities of Hope is significant because of the scope of the planned project — a full subdivision of affordable homes, along with other types of affordable housing. And it’s significant because of the nonprofit’s commitment to serving the community — the homes will be financed with zero-interest mortgages, and if families can’t make full payments, they can work off the rest through sweat equity.
Habitat for Humanity called on Simpson, hoping for help. With the latest round of appropriations, Simpson delivered — and delivered generously.
Habitat for Humanity requested $1 million in federal funding to get the project off the ground. Simpson secured $3 million.
If Habitat for Humanity can make efficient use of those funds, and they have a track-record of doing so, the Communities of Hope project could make a tremendous difference for low- and moderate-income families in Idaho Falls.
In an age where politics is dominated by partisanship and posturing, it’s welcome to see an instance of good, old-fashioned problem-solving.