Commentary writer Peter Coyle ("Affordable housing unchained," April 8) claims that the best way to make new homes affordable in Minnesota is to reduce the regulatory costs of homebuilding, stating that a comparable home costs $20,000 less to build in Wisconsin. His arithmetic is way off — affordable homeownership is well beyond the reach of many Minnesotans, and Coyle's approach is unlikely to benefit lower-income people and households of color. It takes a comprehensive approach and an increased public financial commitment to increase homeownership, make rent affordable for more people and reduce homelessness. Counseling and support for prospective home buyers, mortgage strategies and public investment to build more affordable homes and apartments are all needed. Just cutting regulations, many of which protect buyers and communities, will do nothing but put more money in builders' pockets.
Mark Schoenbaum, Minneapolis
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Coyle's article made the good point that solutions to our affordable-housing challenge go beyond simply more subsidies. His proposals — such as changing zoning regulations that prohibit smaller homes — were focused on new construction. But those strategies are also applicable to housing for homeless and lower-income citizens. For example, dormitories or communal apartment arrangements could be lower-cost options if government policy allowed for and promoted them. Current options for homeless people seem to veer between a bench, a church basement or a full apartment — with little in-between. Basic publicly funded dorm rooms could be a low-cost transitional option. Similarly, entry-level rental units seem to overwhelmingly consist of full apartments. These units are often too expensive for people earning $12 per hour. But maybe these folks could afford a lower-cost communal living arrangement. My 65-year-old uncle lives in a very pleasant, unsubsidized, communal-style apartment in high-cost San Francisco.
So why don't we do this? As Coyle described, two reasons are zoning restrictions and local NIMBY opposition. Overcoming both will not be easy, but it would be a more efficient and sustainable strategy to make sure all Minnesotans have an affordable place to live.
Ryan Pulkrabek, Minneapolis
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Though affordable housing is chained by both the local and state government and their ways of regulation, Coyle fails to consider the more significant issue and crisis: the federal government and its regulations. Ever since the crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve has been rather coerced to keep its interest rate very low, practically at zero, during the more beginning period of the aftermath of the crash. This coercion appears to be more the means to have ever kept the housing prices high rather than have them truly correct, which should have been the better resolution. But heaven forbid we would ever let the prices fall to such a plateau that speaks the dark truth no one ever wants to talk about but cynically denies.
Keith Krugerud, Brooklyn Park
DOWN SYNDROME, ABORTION RIGHTS
A story of compassion, and fraught in the telling
I felt the need to respond to Tim J. McGuire's April 8 commentary regarding his personal situation ("Aborting fetuses with Down's should be legal; it's still wrong"). His story of his own disability and of his son's Down syndrome was so beautifully written. I agree we are all special, unique and cannot be replicated. McGuire's story brought a light to my day.
Bev Luttio, Bloomington
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McGuire doesn't believe in abortion. He believes "we must build a basic respect for all lives."
He says his "life has been worth living," that his son Jason has been a real gift to the world and that Jason's life is worth living.
He says that "everybody is different in some way and everybody has a contribution to make to the world." This is good to hear.
And yet he assumes that any government legislation will "force" people to keep Down syndrome babies.
He finds it "reprehensible and morally dangerous for government to pretend to know best what choice parents should make."
What kind of legislation "forces" people to keep the baby? There are many who would welcome those babies into their homes via adoption because, like McGuire, they see the value of those lives and the gifts they bring. And is he not indirectly influencing the issue for those who don't want to accept their Down baby by saying abortion is OK for them (though it isn't for him), rather than trying to help them understand what gifts could enrich their lives by welcoming that child as he did Jason? Opening the abortion door merely gives people license to kill what they don't find attractive or convenient.
If it hasn't already, all that fence-sitting's gonna start hurting somewhere …
Barbara Schrenk, Richfield
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I read each of the April 8 opinions on abortion and Down syndrome by McGuire, George F. Will and Ruth Marcus. They were all interesting, but moot except for the one by Marcus, who stated fact, not opinion: In this country, a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion. Period.
This fight has been fought before. Abortion was not a crime until the mid-1800s. By the century's end, it was banned in every state. By 1930, there were an estimated 800,000 illegal abortions taking place, resulting in thousands of women's deaths each year. Connecticut even made it illegal for married couples to obtain birth-control devices.
The forces who believe they have the right to impose their judgment on every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. have been and still are unceasingly working to do just that.
Montez Beard, Lilydale
Wouldn't touch that job with …
A little more than 50 years ago, I wrote code that modeled production of olefins by pyrolysis of hydrocarbons. My employer used that code for years and I am proud of that work. It required intense concentration and all the skill I could muster.
I have been watching hearings regarding MNLARS on public TV. Code required for MNLARS is complex — much more complex than the challenge I faced. If Minnesota IT has to hire more people or if the project is farmed out to the private sector, I wish the government lots of luck (" 'Guardrails' proposed for state IT agency," April 12). Anyone who takes a job working on MNLARS is flat-ass crazy given the politicization that surrounds it.
Lloyd R. White, Minneapolis
ADOPTION AND DNA
Reunited and respectful
The interesting and well-written story "From strangers to family" (April 8) tells strangers to adoption how important lost family connections are. We in the adoption world know that mail-in DNA kits are a gift to adoptees. But what else the story showed is space. A picture included with the article as it continued inside the Variety section showed reuniting lost families giving each other space. So important also.
Eunice Anderson, Burnsville