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Affordable housing needed

I was beginning to feel like Don Quixote arguing about Gilbert and College Streets. Then I regained the power of hope from President Obama’s State of the Union Address. It was his emphasis on a living wage, the middle class, housing, and voting, that attracted my attention.

We have a small business here in Iowa City that pays a living wage plus benefits, but it is endangered because its location in the floodplain at Van Buren and Washington Streets. The New Pioneer Coop is an Iowa City institution that wants to expand, and it would expect to employ more people. 

The middle class/working class making $45,000 to $60,000 per annum needs affordable housing. These are the people who earn too much for Section 8. These are the homeowners that pay their real-estate taxes to keep the city functioning at a Triple A bond level.

There are two elections coming up in the near future, one special election in which the revamped justice center will be on the ballot, and the other for three City Council positions. You must register to vote and vote as though your lifestyle depends on it, because it does. These elections are off-year elections, and the power elite is depending on you to be uninterested. 2010 was a midterm election that has brought penury to the middle/working class because voters were not paying attention.

I have been told that Gilbert and College Streets, which is near to the historic College Green area, is too valuable for affordable housing and that the city cannot allow a parcel of land to go to a single-use business purpose.

Never mind that the byword, before the favored contractor began to build skyscrapers, was to support small businesses. Never mind the fact that affordable housing has been on the agenda for years and that each present homeowner has to pay $200 to help finance tax abatements for downtown development.

Mary Gravitt
Iowa City resident

RE: ‘Minimum wage should be raised’

My favorite part of Obama’s speech was when he talked about raising the minimum wage and then in the next paragraph he talked about young adults fighting for their first job.

Billy Zelsnack

RE: ‘Iowa City officials, business owners react to possible minimum wage increase’

Better ways of dealing with it, Hans? And just what would that be professor? Employers voluntarily raising a minimum wage increase over several years? They don’t raise minimums unless pressured by government.

Minimum wage was a moot case when you could start at it and then advance in employment and wages, but today people have to live on that wage.

A family, of which IC has few living on minimum wage, of four with one adult employed is $5,000 below the poverty line. Deny that, Jim Rinella.

And FYI, the Airliner’s been crying the poverty wolf since the ’70s, when I was in IC. But sadly, today they just can’t let more underage drinkers in as they did in the past.

PAULA and disorderly conduct citations seem to affect bars more than minimum-wage increases. And ask yourself just what is that huge staff and productivity he’s speaking of — a bar is a minimum staff business compared with, say, manufacturing, where a minimum-wage increase can really add up if you have large numbers of employees exploited at $7.25/hour.

Minimum wage is no longer a starting wage — it’s a “I’m stuck there” wage with less chance for advancement from minimum wage to a living wage than at any time since minimum wage laws were enacted.

Any of you college grads want to be 27 and working for $7.25? And Ms. Thornton, what’s your business and employee base making?

Joseph Haga

‘If you have large numbers of employees exploited at $7.25/hour.’

I agree, Joseph — we need to take steps to prevent employers from forcing Iowa City residents into working at jobs by force. How the city has never looked into this, I have no idea.

There should definitely be a law preventing employers from taking people off the street and forcing them to work a job they did not want and against their will. I think it is high time the City Council addressed this issue. Taking away citizens’ right to choose employment is a basic right in my opinion; that right being taken away is a complete disgrace.

Brian Kahler

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