Toward Fighting the Usual, Expected Interpretation
This is the sort of claim that begs for a well-researched response:
“The data … clearly illustrates the need for more affordable homes in the Ocean State,” said Nellie M. Gorbea, executive director of HousingWorks. “As lawmakers convene in January, it is imperative that they fund affordable-housing programs like the Neighborhood Opportunities Program … to immediately address the large number of families on the verge of losing their apartments or houses because they can’t afford the rent or mortgage.”
The basis for the claim is a HousingWorks study of U.S. Census data finding that 41.7% of Rhode Islanders pay more than 30% of their incomes on “housing costs,” which is the highest ratio in the region. Unfortunately, I spent most of my blogging time, the other day, discovering that the Census’s new data acquisition tool would eat up most of my blogging time.
The first thing I wondered was whether property taxes are included in “housing costs.” The second thing I wanted to research was the significance of average incomes on the calculation. I know from past research that Rhode Island’s income level is relatively low, by New England standards.
Both of those considerations support the argument that the last thing Rhode Island should do is to increase government expenditures. Rather, we should lower taxes across the board and lighten mandates and regulations, thereby encouraging economic activity and higher average incomes.
Were Anchor Rising a full-time gig, we would collect the necessary data and post it in the form of a report, which we would promote around local media and bring before any relevant legislative committees — not out of protection of special interests, but out of pure interest in the subject matter and the health of the state.