Monday, December 12, 2011

So which is it, MSHA: did you over-spec, or did your developer over-price?

You may have come across this item published on the Bangor Daily News website yesterday; it provides some ‘closure’ to a contentious public discussion about a particularly pricey ‘affordable housing’ project under the auspices of the Maine State Housing Authority.

Controversial Elm Terrace development gets OK at $265K per unit


By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 11, 2011, at 5:52 p.m.

The head of the Maine State Housing Authority has approved plans for a low-income housing complex in Portland for $265,000 per unit, roughly $50,000 below an earlier cost estimate that has sparked a political showdown with state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin.

Dale McCormick, director of MaineHousing, said Sunday evening that she signed a letter of commitment with the developer late last week to construct a 38-unit Elm Terrace complex after the developer managed to lower the costs from $314,000 per unit.

“It has been approved to go forward and that happened because they found the $50,000 in cost savings that we said they had to find,” McCormick said.

Included in the report is this bizarre statement that perfectly embodies the logical and moral divide between private sector taxpayers and government benefactors in the public sector:

McCormick said there are reasons why affordable housing complexes cost more to build….

Excuse me??  ‘How dare they’ doesn’t even begin to capture the ‘we’re not like you, we’re the government’ arrogance endemic to such agencies.

Tough at it is, we’ll put that aspect of this discussion aside, and instead, dazzle you with a blinding flash of the obvious. We must ask MSHA officials how the price per unit suddenly and inexplicably dropped from $314,000 to $265,000. 

Specifically, has the scope of the Elm Street Project been reduced to drive the price down, or is the scope being held firm?

If MSHA took $50,000 in scope out of each unit, why was there this much unnecessary content in supposedly 'affordable housing' for 'low income' families?  Was this a gold plated, green agenda 'statement' project, at the cost of more housing units for the needy?

Or was the developer about to sign a deal for a price inflated by $50,000 per unit, and if so, how could this be allowed to happen? 

As the saying goes, we report, you decide.  From where we sit, there doesn’t seem to be an answer that doesn’t make ‘somebody’ look bad.

And ‘somebody’ works at MSHA.

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1 comment:

  1. If affordable housing is defined as what a rational person without subsidy can afford in the form of housing we have a basis for discussion. History has shown that a person with a steady job making X has a choice of buying or renting. If buying he will need a loanand banks will insist ona certain amount down and payments not exceeing 25% of the loanees income.

    For a $245,000 loan with nothing down at 4% it requires a payment of $1170 per month and if that is 25% of income, the income is $56,000 per year, Hardly poverty level.

    When you recognize that the average price of a house in Maine is under $140,000 the idiocy of a Maine Housing Authority as being necessary to produce "Affordable Housing" is patently rediculous.

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