Harrisonburg City Council was presented with the key findings from last year's housing study on Tuesday.

Along with those key points, the city was given recommendations on how the city can loosen the housing strain.

The truth of the matter is thousands of Harrisonburg residents live in homes that don't line up with their income level, and the ongoing demand for student housing adds pressure by pricing out nonstudent households.

You can read all the nuts and bolts in Ian Munro's stories leading up to, and including, Tuesday night's presentation.

But the one thing that did catch our eye: "The cost of living in Harrisonburg is rising faster than wages and income, and the growth in low-wage jobs increases the demand for affordable housing," said Jessica Lurz, housing and community development specialist at Mullin and Lonergan, the consulting firm hired by the city to do the study.

This results in a "vicious cycle," she said, which cannot be solved simply by building more housing.

Attracting good-paying jobs and providing workforce training was the No. 2 recommendation from the study, behind urging the city to hire a housing coordinator.

So, that leads to the question: What can the city do?

We hope the city will take a long, hard look at the study it commissioned. Because affordable housing in our borders is desperately needed. So, too, are higher-paying jobs.

Yet Harrisonburg can ill afford to leave those who work lower-wage jobs behind.

It's an unenviable task, for sure. But it's the kind of task City Council members are elected to do — look long and look hard.

(4) comments



This study has been available on the Internet for about 2 months (Nov. 20, to be exact), so I am quite sure nothing in the ‘study’ came as a surprise to the collected talent on the council. So, the conclusion is to add another layer of useless fat to the city payroll in the form of a housing coordinator (whatever that is), import higher paying jobs (though the city has demonstrated it is much better at importing low-paying jobs (importing another chicken slaughterhouse is one that comes to mind”) that attract more cheap foreign labor increasing demand for low-rent (or more likely rent-subsidized) properties, while pointing a finger at – you guessed it – homeowners and renters who live a more frugal lifestyle perhaps in order to build their savings for retirement or to simply have an emergency fund to fall back on when needed, and homeowners that prefer to live in single family neighborhoods.

Given the obvious, one has to ask why Mssrs. Baugh and Romero recently signed a letter demanding Mr. Trump import more ‘refugees’, the majority of which form a part of the cheap labor contingent.


I think you’re correct Donald, the City doesn’t need another person on the payroll to detail the obvious. And I do prefer to live in a residence that is below my means as a hedge against the unknown.

Harrisonburg is on a steep upward property tax trajectory and the end to that situation is nowhere in sight. Combined with the City’s poverty and ALICE rate, that does not bode well for its future.


I too live "below my means." But I think your claim that a housing specialist would be a layer of useless fat is not (necessarily) accurate. I don't know what a housing coordinator entails, but I'd see if other, similar locations have one and if they feel it is worth it before I'd dismiss it out of hand.


Well, if attracting higher paying jobs is the goal, the city could start by ceasing the current trend of raising taxes and chasing profitable businesses from the city.

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