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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dean Browning Proposes Affordable Housing Solution for Lehigh County

Although the mainstream media failed to send a reporter to cover Wednesday evening's Lehigh County Commissioners' meeting, Dean Browning was there. He's attended most of them over the past two years, gaining valuable insight into the inner workings of Lehigh County government. This Lehigh County commissioner candidate recently proposed that Cunningham should consider a tax cut because the county will have a $20 million surplus. And at Wednesday evening's meeting, he proposed another idea directed at affordable housing.

Called an "Empowerment Solution," Browning's idea is focused on individual private sector investment rather than government or non-profit directed efforts.

"Relying solely on government, non-profit organizations and large-scale developers to address our affordable housing needs is the wrong approach," said Browning. "We need to empower individual entrepreneurs and encourage their involvement. I am confident that they can do better work and at a more cost effective price than government can."

Lehigh County's Affordable Housing Fund balance in 2008 is $1.4 million. A recent ordinance allows up to 15% to be used annually on administrative costs, with another 20% for non-profits. Browning said this approach, by itself, ignores entrepreneurs and will lead to more situations like the one recently reported in The Morning Call where $140,000 was spent to renovate a home that was then sold for $70,000.

"Home ownership is the gold standard of success in America, and I want to see everyone have the opportunity to accomplish that dream," said Browning. "Lehigh County and Allentown in particular, needs to renovate its housing stock and attract homeowners. We can use individual entrepreneurs to do this one house at a time".

Browning’s plan calls for 20% of the money in the County’s Affordable Housing Fund to be set aside for the "One House At A Time" initiative with 50% of that earmarked for Allentown.

This proposal applies to homes under $100,000, and provides rebates of up to $5,000 per home for transfer taxes, real estate taxes and title insurance. "We must improve our housing stock and increase homeownership, especially in Allentown," said Browning. He told me that cities like Allentown did not deteriorate overnight, but one house at a time. He proposes to fix the problem, one house at a time.


Anonymous said...

A guy who thinks that incentives aimed at pride of ownership will improve a neighborhood's overall quality? A guy who thinks that government is not the best place to achieve efficiency?

What radical ideas. He must not be from around here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So do we reject an idea because it is not radical enough?

What makes this a little different is that the incentive in this case is aimed at the guy who does the rehab, if I understand it correctly.

Dear Maddy said...

You forgot the best part:
Gun Ownership! If you buy a home and rehab it, the plan gives you up to $2,000 in rebates to buy automatic weapond to defend your Property! And if you put a kiosk full of fresh vegetables at the sidewalk for the poor, another $1000 a year! That's what I call a Progressive Republican!
I'm Kidding!
It is good to see a Republican thinking outside the small metal cash box that usually controls their thinking. And because Don Cunningham is a progressive who has shown a willingness to work with Republicans, Browning's ideas will get fair consideration.