We can’t place the full blame for housing shortages on outside investors; they have their place in benefiting the community and bringing tourists in to circle cash. But, we can look at the number of hurdles each party needs to overcome to reach their purchasing goal and try to determine if the length of the race is equitable. It’s no secret that wealthier people tend to get more tax breaks, and when it comes to property taxes, the result is the property tax burden being shifted from owners of larger and more expensive properties to people who own smaller and less expensive homes.
Limitations in the building industry are another recent cause of housing shortages. A lack of basic building supplies is a theme spread across the United States since the supply chain was disrupted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Builders report waiting months for simple items, like doors. Lumber prices rose to jaw-dropping costs, which are just now possibly sliding back down to more affordable rates.
In short, there are a multitude of factors to consider when it comes to housing shortages, and the solutions to this massive issue can feel even more daunting.
Minicozzi referenced Buncombe County Planning director Nate Pennington on the issue of housing shortages in North Carolina: “There is no silver bullet answer. What you need is a silver buckshot approach.”
Along with reconstructing the property tax system to identify full-time, short-term rentals and tax them more appropriately according to their true monetary value and status, we’ll need other solutions to really make a difference and develop a balance within the community. Minicozzi suggests another possible solution for bettering housing affordability is to also look at making property tax rebates for homeowners and homeowner exemptions more accessible.
There’s a lot of possible roads on the route to a more fiscally balanced community, and North Carolina is only one of many states working to make that happen. To govern over a group of people and ensure fairness and equality is distributed amongst all groups is a heavy burden. There are countless angles to consider, multitudes of testimonials to influence decisions, and of course our own framing bias when looking at the functioning of local government and what’s fair.
Currently, our nation is burdened with property tax inequities and citizens throughout the United States have called for a change. In Buncombe county, North Carolina, residents explain through their own experience that something is clearly wrong with the tax assessment system.
Urban3 has been researching property tax inequities in North Carolina for over a year now. They’ve partnered with the Just Accounting consortium, which Strong Towns is a part of, to further dive into property tax inequities and research the potential health effects this issue may cause. To learn more about this effort, check out the website and sign up for our email list.