Our View: Encouraging signs on affordable housing at meeting

April 10, 2019

Through booms and busts, the question of affordable housing has lingered in Lake Havasu City. It’s more apparent now, of course, because a thriving economy usually means a tighter housing market. But it’s always been an issue in Havasu, where single-family homes far outnumber multifamily housing projects.

The issue came into focus a few weeks ago when Lake Havasu City officials met with representatives from various nonprofit groups. Anecdotes about the lack of housing in Havasu were plentiful.

Jason Millan of Mohave County Community Services said the county gives housing vouchers to veterans, but the vouchers often expire because they can’t find anything affordable.

Christine Watson of the Clothes Closet said she’s had people in her program obtain jobs but end up homeless when they can’t afford housing in the area.

The goal of the meeting was to identify gaps in community services and explore what, if anything, the city can help fix. Solutions were few at the meeting, but it’s encouraging that local officials are involved in the discussions. That doesn’t mean Lake Havasu City has to spend a dime on social services, but it’s an important development that Mayor Cal Sheehy and city staff are willing to help lead the conversation.

For what it’s worth, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Havasu needs to deal with another housing problem: Namely, the people that don’t have any. The homeless are visible in greater numbers, and they’ve been showing up in areas where fire is a concern. It’s in the city’s interest to address homelessness one way or another — and sooner, rather than later.

Some homelessness can be addressed simply by answering the housing affordability question. A greater mix of housing types mean those earning lower incomes won’t necessarily have to live out of cars or in short-term rentals.

The answers aren’t yet clear, but we’re glad to note the meeting wasn’t a one-and-done dog-and-pony-show. Another meeting is scheduled for Aug. 15. Lake Havasu City is known for coming up with creative solutions to vexxing problems and it’s clear that partnerships are important to building a better community that’s affordable for all.

— Today’s News-Herald