Study finds more than half of Edmond residents can’t afford average new home in the city
On Monday,Edmond City Council met with a full room of residents and representatives ready to speak on the housing assessment conducted by the company Development Strategies.
The city paid $128,900 for the assessment. In it were several talked-about statistics at the meeting. One of those stats was that 75% of Edmond’s workforce cannot afford to live in the city they work in.
Local builder Caleb McCaleb of McCaleb Custom Homes spoke at the meeting. McCaleb is a resident of Edmond and has built homes in the area since the 1980s.
“The 'we’re here, you can’t come in' attitude has got to stop,” McCaleb said. “When 75% of your workforce can’t live in the town they work in, that’s a sad statement. This isn't about giveaways. I think a lot of people think it's about giveaways.”
His comments came after several residents spoke about their concerns for what bringing affordable housing to the area would look like and mean for their own properties.
“We all have huge investments of time, energy, money, mortgages, whatever to live in this community,” resident Robert Semands said. “I don't want to see anything happen here that could diminish our stock, you know, our investment in this community as individual residents here.”
Concerns over housing as investments was a common theme among many commenters.
“I started out with my family living in an apartment, in a duplex, then eventually a small home and then worked my way up,” resident Steve Curry said. “For a lot of us that have invested a lot of money in our homes that's, in many cases, the biggest asset we have. We can't afford to have those assets depreciated on us because of what goes on around us.”
Lifelong Edmond resident Megan Schmidt also spoke, saying that their family consider themselves lucky to live in Edmond after buying their home shortly after the housing crash. Schmidt spoke to the generational differences.
“You know, people from the 70s who could work one job and afford a home here in Edmond, but at the same time, they could raise a family of two kids and a wife,” Schmidt said. “But now you pitch that against us, our generation, and there's no way that that's achievable. It's just not.”
After more than an hour of discussion about the assessment, Edmond City Mayor Darrell Davis gave the councilors a chance to respond to all they heard from residents.
Council Member Barry Moore emphasized that he is trying to find a way to work on this issue with all citizens of Edmond.
“If all you can afford is a $140,000 house, that doesn't make you less human than someone that lives in a $2.5 million house,” Moore said. “ We've got to figure this out.”
One of the more heated responses came from Ward 3 Council Member Christin Mugg, who addressed some accusations against the council having an agenda.
“There's no motive here other than to make Edmond a great community,” Mugg said. “I've listened to what everyone said tonight, I read every email and I'll continue to do that. But do not accuse us of things that are just not true.”
Mugg added, “This idea that people who pay less for their home or, God forbid, rent are not good people and not good neighbors — is gross. And it's embarrassing, and it's got to stop.”
This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage