Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Update...

I think I have the bird flu. Really, I do. I've been miserable for days; medications aren't working any longer; and there's no end in sight.

Okay, maybe I don't have the bird flu, but what I do have is preventing me from attaining my normal level of lucidity--not a very high target.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on a few things before I lose consciousness again. First, HoCo Blog has posted the income distribution for Howard County from the 2000 census. He points out that our $74,000 median income is not really reflective of the entire population and that the data fail to show the breakdown of county workers--teachers, firefighters, police--many of whom surely must go outside the county for their housing needs. He's right on both points, but looking at our county's income profile for only one year doesn't really show us anything we don't know.

We know that median household income and median housing costs are completely out of whack. Indeed, median household income in 2004 was $82,000 and median household value was $347,000, four times greater than income.

However, more important than showing us that there is a problem is showing us what the impacts of this problem are. For instance, are people actually leaving Howard County in non-trivial numbers because of housing costs. Anecdotally, yes, but do we have any way to prove it. And, if we do, what does this mean for the community and our economy?

While I can't really answer these questions now, I can show you a graph I made a few weeks ago using 2000 and 2004 Census data.


From the graph, you can see that in general, our residency is becoming more concentrated in the higher income brackets, suggesting to some extent that we are becoming wealthier (or that lower income households are losing ground in the county). I don't really have the analytical wherewithal to go much further down this train of thought, but I figured I would at least put it out there.

On a related note, the Sun today reported on the eviction of the final holdouts from the Ev-Mar Mobile Home Park in Savage.

After years of bitter wrangling and months of court hearings, the tiny Ev-Mar Mobile Home Park in Savage was emptied of its last residents yesterday, as Cpl. David M. Miller, a Howard County sheriff's deputy, stood by.

Amid tears and last-minute packing, residents of four of the older mobile homes emptied their belongings into trucks as crews representing the owners of the 6.8-acre site on Gorman Road near Savage Mill began preparing to demolish the six older trailers and haul away the two nearly new doublewide mobile homes.

"If you don't make a whole lot of money, you don't belong in this county," said Waverly Bryant, a 12-year resident and ironworker who said he is putting his belongings in storage and heading to New Orleans for work.
It seems that if we want to make an honest difference in the lack of affordable housing, replacing such existing units with new, non-affordable units isn't going to get us very far. Indeed, preserving the housing opportunities that we have is as important as creating new ones, only, I guess, if it doesn't said in the way of unfettered profit.

I hope to have more soon...

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