Opinion: Keep Marion affordable

Dec 5, 2023

To the editor:

Affordable housing is a problem in every community.  It's not only the purchase price of a home that creates barriers: utilities, property taxes and insurance, cost of living (groceries, etc.) all add up to make living in Marion expensive. Insurance in low lying areas combined with property taxes can exceed $1,500 per month, making it expensive to just live here — even after a mortgage is retired.

I participate in the management of families’ affairs including our family home in Ohio. Upper Arlington has a high tax rate, but provides affordability programs that help people “Remain at Home”.
Remain at home is the most affordable solution for most, but covering the monthly costs, post mortgage, is still a significant burden for many.
I openly suggest that Marion look at programs that provide property tax discounts or deferments for folks that want to remain at home. $12,000 to $20,000 per year is a lot for people on fixed incomes. Forcing them to sell the home and move on only fuels further upscaling of the town, adding to the affordability problem for everyone.
There are two major housing projects permitted off Route 6.  One has enough 40B to sun set 40B requirements for years. In other words, there will no longer a requirement for developers to include more “affordable units.”  
Let's all be honest, no one wants to give up a family home for an apartment, and if the town enacts programs that help reduce and defer, many will be able to Remain at Home.
A short list of actions the town can take include:  A property tax deferment program (means tested) and formalizing a program to allow adding first floor suites in homes including fast track permitting and deferred assessments.
Let's keep Marion the way we all remember it, including keeping it affordable for the people that built lives here.
Chris Collings, Marion