Tonight at 6:30, I'll be attending the Workforce Housing Town Hall event at Big Blue Brewery in Cape Coral. The current agenda includes speaking sessions from John Szerlag, the City Manager, Amy Yearsley, Cape Coral's Housing Coordinator, a realtor from Century 21, and a local builder.
The main objective is how to fix the workforce housing crisis, a topic Mr. Szerlag will likely handle. The solution topic for discussion tonight is for the development of a "tiny houses" concept, to be built in an area of Cape Coral not really close to much. To address cost, it almost always costs more per square foot to build a smaller home than it does a bigger home. Every square foot is "economy of scales" and I am going to take a guess that these tiny homes will cost $120 PSF turnkey with land included. So, thinking you can build smaller for much cheaper is fake news. You can make it smaller and cheaper, but not very cost efficient in the long run.
The Century 21 realtor is going to be speaking about how homeowners of these tiny homes can even finance their down payment. Really??
I have many issues with tonight's topics and I hope to be able to speak to the group to emphasize what everyone fails to be addressing. The tiny homes are designed to offer a pricepoint to buyers who earn $35,000 to $45,000. This salary bracket is the three most common employment sectors in Cape Coral and Fort Myers.
Why do people buy homes? It's an investment, right? Home prices are almost always certain to go up, right? So, own a home for the average of 7 years, sell the home for a profit, and buy another home that you consider the perfect dream home for you and your family. Or, at least it gets you closer to work or closer to a better lifestyle environment. If the Cape is planning on creating "attainability" in home prices, the prices set forth initially will be one-generational and if those initial homeowners decide to have a family or upsize for whatever reason, they are going to look to sell at a profit, and so will the next owners and the next. Why not just have rented in the first place and at least take advantage of zero maintenance living. A rental solution is much easier to accomplish than a home buying solution for now.
You can't create homeowners overnight, especially in an income bracket between $35-40k. It's a process that begins with educating those who rent. If there are subsidies available, start with a "future homeownership program." Our proposal to the Lee School District was a 7 year plan. Tonight's agenda the way it is, should be re-thought as there is no level of innovation to the plan.
Financing down payments is not good either. This is veering farther and farther from what really should be a fiscally conservative comprehensive plan.
I'm sure I'll be asked for my suggestions tonight. We'll see if they fall on deaf ears.
P.S. The featured image of this post is a rendering of the "tiny homes" concept being introduced. What do you think for the millenials, echo boomers, and Y Generation that wants to live the dream?