Affordable housing

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 6, 2005

If there’s anything that could derail the &uot;freight train,&uot; as some have described the surging development of downtown Suffolk, it’s a lack of affordable housing.

It’s going to take a lot of low wage, service employees to feed the growing restaurant, hotel and tourist-related business Suffolk is banking on to fuel downtown development.

As things stand now, those who work these jobs cannot afford to live here and particularly now with fuel prices spiraling, people are not going to commute to work in Suffolk’s restaurants and hotels.

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While tax rates and equestrian centers may grab headlines, there are few issues that have the long-term potential to impact Suffolk as much as quality, affordable housing.

Fortunately, city officials have acknowledged and understand the problem and are working to address it.

On Wednesday, Jeryl Phillips, who heads the committee appointed by city council to address the matter, reported on the status. The committee’s recommendations-among them creating incentives for developers to make them want to build affordable housing, building on existing housing assistance programs-are crucial to solving the problem.

We hope City Council quickly gets behind the effort.

&uot;Our goal is to allow people who work in Suffolk to live in Suffolk,&uot; Phillips said.

If the goal is not achieved, a lot of what has been accomplished until now could be undone.