Recently, I’ve heard from three different people that affordable housing just isn’t possible in Juneau. In the same time period, at least as many friends have made plans to leave Juneau for more affordable cities. If I hear one more time that affordable housing isn’t possible in this town…Well, it will motivate me that much more to work on making sure that isn’t true.
It hurts so much every time my peers leave because they can’t afford to live here. To me, these people and their families are the ones who make Juneau Juneau. Their contributions are hard to quantify in numbers and impossible to replace.
The Assembly has a list of priorities, developed annually. This year affordable housing is at the top of the list. The Assembly is also in charge of a large fund balance (due largely to federal pandemic relief). We need to put our money where our mouth is and focus. We have an incredible opportunity to make long-lasting, impactful investments. Instead of being distracted by the shiniest new projects and the loudest voices, we should spend money where it matters the most.
The budget process begins again in April. My own priorities are for affordable housing programs and every assembly member has their own priorities as well. Regardless of the outcome, the process needs to be thorough, deliberate, and focused on what this city and the people who live here need most. Our budget should match our priorities.