Both housing affordability and property taxes are hot and pressing topics today. How are they linked? What can you do about these issues?
Property Taxes for Funding Housing Initiatives
Some taxing authorities, counties, and cities use various property related taxes to help fund affordable housing projects and aid for the homeless. Of course, this can sometimes be counterproductive, as raising property taxes for these expenses also simultaneously make property less affordable for others. This may be partially why Seattle’s mayor recently ditched a plan to use property taxes to fight homelessness, in favor of a county sales tax. If you only tax luxury items, that may work. Though taxing the basics can make life in general more expensive, even if you can’t afford a home already.
Affordability is Getting Worse
Housing affordability is at one of its worse lows in our history. There were some great deals on homes in 2008, if you had the cash, or could get a loan to buy one. Now interest rates are heading up. Homes prices are at new highs. Property taxes keep going up in most areas. Rents are so high that it can be far cheaper to buy a house, but many can’t get good loans due to underwriting quirks. Inflation and higher living costs are leaving many less of their paycheck to put towards housing too.
Long Island Protests
New Long Island protests have seen groups camping out in tents in Garden City and Nassau County. They are standing up against what they see as unfair, and perhaps even discriminatory housing practices. This particularly surrounds land use, zoning changes, and permit approvals. Protestors say they are not only worried about current building practices, but the outlook for their children and grandchildren, and if they’ll have somewhere to live.
We do clearly need some change or better planning. We need balance. Those who can afford it should be able to have their dream houses. Yet, we also need to make sure everyone has a safe housing option. If not, the system is unsustainable, or the market may correct itself again, and that could be very bad for everyone.
We can all get involved in the decision-making process at different levels. Some do that by protesting. Others with their votes, and others by enrolling themselves in politics, but it can take a lot of time. There are many barriers to change. The one option that is available for homeowners that need help in reducing their housing costs right now is to challenge your property taxes. Challenge your bill, get it lowered, and make your home more affordable.