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The League of Women Voters studies and takes positions on public policy issues at the local, state, and national levels. Based on a local housing study completed in 2012, the League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico (LWVSNM) supports efforts to increase the availability of safe housing that is affordable to moderate- and low-income households.
Actions the League endorses include: housing options that are appropriate for seniors, the disabled and first-time home buyers; a variety of types of housing for rent and purchase integrated within the community; and strategies such as use of public-private partnerships and grants, rehabilitation, fee waivers and a housing trust fund and land bank to promote housing affordability.
Housing is a topic that regularly engages the City Council, especially recently as local government has grappled with the implications of the pandemic for residents and as the City has been updating its consolidated plan related to housing. Issues of energy efficiency and fuel sources, as well as transportation, are critical components of housing affordability and sustainability.
Currently, League members are updating their knowledge of local housing issues and are particularly engaged in looking at innovative ways the City might use its own land and other resources to promote better integration of housing types and a mix of income levels throughout the community.
Types of housing might include single family houses with accessory dwellings, duplexes, townhomes and multi-family housing. This sort of configuration would allow people to stay within a given area or neighborhood as their circumstances change. That is, a first-time home buyer or renter in an area could move to a larger home as circumstances allowed and occupants of larger homes could downsize within the same area, not needing to move to a different part of town.
Moreover, members of extended families might find it easier to live within the same neighborhood. In a diverse community such as ours, essential workers could find safe and suitable housing convenient to transportation and services.
The League is particularly encouraged by the possibilities suggested to the City Council for the East Lohman Development Plan. The project can be a model for the future of the city, allowing us to build a diverse neighborhood that includes energy-efficient housing options for people at a variety of income levels along with access to public transit and safe bicycle and pedestrian paths, public parks, open space and scenic vistas.
Maintaining natural drainage features, desert vegetation and wildlife habitats is also possible. This project includes a variety of housing types at a range of costs for people at very different stages of their lives. Such a project illustrates what can be done with creativity and relevant resources.
Safe, energy efficient and mixed-income housing in neighborhoods with commercial and public services will support equity and inclusion for a well-functioning democracy. The LWVSNM approves the City’s efforts to educate the public and implement attainable housing.