On Nov. 7, Lima voters will have an opportunity to choose a new path for our city by electing Keith Cheney as our next mayor.
In most elections, voters choose a candidate based on what seems to be the most important issues around the time of the election. Rarely do we get the opportunity to see the effects of a specific set of policies over a long period of time. This election is an exception.
In the early 1980s, local policy-makers across the industrial Midwest had to choose whether to embrace the government or the private sector as their cities tried to recover from the loss of many good paying manufacturing jobs over the past 20 years. In no sector was the contrast between these two paths more stark than housing. As is still the case, when tax dollars pour in (mostly from the federal government) to pay for new dwellings, the natural result is those living in private homes and apartments leave. As homes and apartments are abandoned, the neighborhoods where they are located suffer. With each new government-subsidized housing project, there is press coverage with much fanfare but no mention of the empty houses that result from that project.
The Berger Administration has searched for every possible opportunity for governmental dollars for housing over the last 28 years. The result of the policy has decimated neighborhoods, especially on Lima’s south and east sides. Taken individually, it’s hard to see how one project could cause this. But if we look collectively, we observe the disaster the Lima housing market has become with hundreds of units within the city, including seven multiple-unit buildings within a four block radius of the downtown square.
Now Mayor Berger has proposed new fees and penalties for private landlords. Whenever government imposes new costs, the result is always pass-through of costs from the provider to the user in some way; in this case, rents will be higher or private owners will leave the Lima market.
Matt Huffman is a Lima attorney and state senator representing Allen County.