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One of the great joys and great frustrations of living in a small community like Rappahannock County is that everyone knows one another and knows roughly where their friends and neighbors stand on some issues, and vaguely remembers past conversations they’ve had on various topics.
It’s a great joy when people remember you might like a certain thing and go out of their way to pass on a tidbit of information you might find interesting. It’s a great frustration, however, when friends and neighbors mis-remember something you’ve said in the past, or just casually assume that because you agreed with “X” you now must agree with “Y” and pass that supposition off as fact.
Twice in the past two weeks my name has been used in these pages by friends of mine on opposite sides of a local issue (an issue on which I have no opinion). I don’t mind this per se, but I do take exception to my name being weaponized to advance a position I haven’t taken.
So, to clear the air, yes indeed, I have said in the past that we do not have an affordable housing crisis in this county. That still holds true to a large degree, but here, like everywhere else at the moment, there is a mad scramble to purchase housing, and in this post-pandemic world, rural areas around the country are feeling for the first time in a long, long while, what it is like to be in a competitive real estate market. There is no denying that there are bidding wars and properties selling above listing prices in our area.
And yet I cannot help but note that of the 37 residential properties currently on the market, roughly one third are under $500,000 and one can be had for $169,000. Of those 32 properties currently under contract, seven are being sold for under $300,000 (including a nice little house in Sperryville that sold for $110,000), and additional five are under $400,000. Readers of this letter can do the math and draw their own conclusions on what is affordable.
And speaking of math, I’d also like to note that I’ve never once said “‘affordable’ is housing that rents for $2,000 a month.” That is a twisting of facts to facilitate an argument that doesn’t stand on its own merits.
What I have said (and you can look it up in the archives of this very paper) is: “A $2,000 a month rent for a four bedroom house works out to an individual rent of approximately $500 a month if four people were to rent a group house. How is that unaffordable? At $15 an hour that would take a young person starting out less than a week to make her rent and utilities for a month.”
Lastly, I have no opinion on the merits or deficiencies of the Rush River Commons project. But it would seem to me that it is private property and that within the bounds of our local zoning, the property owner can do what he likes with his property. Chuck Akre is a smart man and a good man, and I believe his plans for the property are well intended. If he perceives the need for subsidized housing and wants to provide it on his property, why is that a problem?
The writer lives in Amissville