A great song by country icon Garth Brooks. By todays standards, everyone I knew growing up in rural Oklahoma were friends in low places or po folks. Only thing is, nobody told us. We all had a roof over our head, plenty to eat, and a buck or two to go to the movies on Saturday night. We didn’t consider ourselves poor because we didn’t live in a mansion, or have the latest fashion that we saw on the 80s tv show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, but by today’s expectations we were paupers. Somewhere along the way we have gotten way out of whack regarding our feelings of rich and poor. The housing discussion has been particularly perplexing. Folks, you don’t need granite counter tops and stainless-steel appliances for your housing to be safe, comfortable, and stable, but since you mentioned it, I looked around Cheyenne to see what might be available. I found multiple vacancies with a couple of bedrooms and granite countertops in the $1500 range. If you use the lower end of wage percentage for housing (30%), a 2-person household earning $17 an hour per person qualifies for this abode and has $273.95 a month to pay for utilities. Are you buying the home? No. Are you living in a mansion? No. Can you buy a top of the line 65-inch tv and a new Tesla on credit? Probably not. The housing crisis we experienced in 18 and 19 does not exist, and it’s time to embrace some math.
Your Chamber of Commerce will continue to work on housing needs and making sure that there is adequate housing for workforce in the community, but honestly, business has stepped up. We have built thousands of units of housing in this community, and much of it for young professionals and workforce. We are very aware that our economy isn’t perfect, and we do have a heart for those that are financially challenged and the un-housed in our community, but if we think that throwing public money at the problem is going to help and not exacerbate the situation, we need an economics refresher course.
What should our course of action be? Glad you asked. The chamber, as well as public partners, must follow the math and respond accordingly. To that end, the chamber is embarking on an updated housing study that will give us guidance for activities and advocacy in coming years.
Secondly, we should be thankful that we live in a state and a city that has good jobs available and a good quality of life. America is still an amazing place for those who want to pursue a dream. By the way, just because you don’t have the latest 65-inch tv and the iPhone 300X ultra doesn’t mean your po folks! Just don’t try to explain that to your teenager.