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LETTER: How GF can lower monthly homeownership costs

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GRAND FORKS — Too often, one person’s view becomes the accepted conventional wisdom and quickly morphs into formal government policy.

I disagree with the view of my friend, Grand Forks City Council Member Dana Sande, who’d like to “bring in more out-of-town and out-of-state developers” to build more housing, including affordable housing, according to a recent Herald story (“Housing short all around,” Page A1, March 17).

I have a great deal of faith that the local builders, utilities, lumber suppliers, HVAC or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contractors, bankers and others associated with home building are much more motivated to create affordable and quality housing than are out-of-area profiteers.

The focus on driving down list prices at the expense of our local businesses misses the point. Affordability is about monthly cost, not list price.

Some options to consider follow. Both area utilities soon will be renewing their city franchises. Both are committed to serving the public good and promoting energy efficiency.

The council can work with them to provide innovative programs to lower utility costs for affordable housing before they renew their franchises.

Innovative HVAC suppliers can partner with affordable housing organizations to lease a system to the homeowner. This lowers initial cost and includes maintenance.

The city can offer incentives on its utility costs, taxes and specials to lower monthly ownership costs.

In summary, monthly ownership costs can be lowered without asking our local small business owners to take more risk for less reward.

C.T. Marhula

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