Inflated price tag?

To the Editor:

In reading the report "Housing crunch has a high price tag" (Sept. 30), I noted with some astonishment the $6 billion price tag reported as necessary to fix the Springs' problems with affordable housing.

The report broke out that number as representing $3.2 billion to help folks buy homes and $2.8 billion to assist in rental payments. Earlier, the report had noted that 37,000 affordable housing units were needed to meet the current backlog in low-rent apartments.

Help pay for rent? Heck, somebody musta misplaced a couple-three zeros somewhere, cuz with 6 billion dollars, the Housing Authority could pay cash for 40,500 homes at the reported median price of $148,000 each. If they just gave them away to all 37,000 families mentioned who need cheap housing they'd still have more than 3,000 houses left over to give away to anyone else that might like a free house. I'm all for it though, since building those 40,000 houses would keep 200 developers (with four or five crews each) building a house a week, busy for the next four years (sorta like a "full employment program," eh?), and Lord knows we could use at least another five or so Norwood-ish subdivisions out on the east side of town.

Is there an affordable housing problem in Colorado Springs? Sure there is! Should the citizens, via their government, try to help? Of course they should. But trying to shock folks with ridiculously outta whack statistics like that $6,000,000,000 thing is not the way to go about it.

-- Mark Cunningham
Colorado Springs

Editor's note: You raise a good point. In the early part of last week's inside news story, we mentioned that city-hired consultants saw a need for 37,318 affordable rental units. But the story failed to mention that the consultants also identified a need for roughly 27,450 first-time homes for low-income folks now renting. Calculating the cost of creating both the new rentals and first-time homes is quite complex, but for a general reference, divide the overall $6 billion cost figure by 64,768 (new homes and rentals) and you get a figure that seems a littler easier to swallow: $92,638. We regret the omission.

I ride the bus

To the Editor:

Most days on my way to work, I read poetry. I find verse a nice alternative to "flipping off" the driver in the SUV next to me. I fill my gas tank once or twice a month rather than once or twice a week. I pay $15 less a month in car insurance than I used to. I don't pay for parking.

I'm 30 years old, an employed professional and able-bodied. I own a car. And I ride the bus.

I write in support of Bill Smith's comment reported in your paper that "there is the kind of people who would jump at the opportunity to leave the driving to someone else." I write in support of the proposed city-sales-tax increase.

Three million bus rides last year (critics call this "underuse"), and the use can only be on the rise as our city grows. Three million bus rides equal how many gallons and how much exhaust unspent? How many cars jammed at stoplights and accidents at crossroads avoided? The quality and flexibility of the bus service is an environmental issue, but just as pressing are the social issues involved. More extensive service means not only an increase in the number of different people who would use the system but also an increased flexibility for those who are dependent on that system. Right now, riding on Sunday or after 6:30 p.m. on most routes is an impossibility. And if you miss your connection in the morning, the next bus doesn't come for another half hour. I choose to ride the bus, but I can't help wonder what it would be like if I didn't have a choice.

I ride to work with college students, spouses in dual-income/single-car households, schoolchildren, senior citizens, physically-challenged individuals, and mountain bikers. I ride to work with Colorado Springs.

-- Rebecca Laroche
Colorado Springs

Disabled skiers shafted by USSA

To the Editor:

Recently, the board of directors of the U.S. Ski Team voted in secret to cut off the funding to one of its scions, the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. The USDST has been competing nationally and internationally under the banner of the U.S. Ski Team (not to mention the American flag) without receiving due prize money, and when they began to fear that they will ask for what is due to them, there was a vote by their governing body to cut them off without so much as consulting them first. As it stands now, the USDST will have no financial support beginning in 2001, one year before the 2002 Paralympics in the home of U.S. Skiing, Salt Lake City.

What kind of message does the U.S. Skiing Association think this sends? Disabled athletes have been struggling forever to prove to the world that they are not to be pitied, but admired as athletes. One thing the U.S. Ski Team accomplished when they took the disabled team under its wing was to add legitimacy to their efforts. By being cut off from their financial support, they are set to face an extremely difficult struggle to even make it to the Paralympics they are supposed to host.

I cannot believe that everyone in the USSA believes that this is a good business decision. What will their sponsors think? And what do they mean to tell the people of this country. The American public is not stupid anymore. They demand answers regardless of the repercussions. This is the era of political correctness, where every poor, wretched soul has a platform and a lobby behind them. By leaving the physically handicapped behind, the U.S. Ski Team is telling America that they don't care what happens to the disabled athletes whom they had previously supported.

It is time for the USSA to break up its "old boys" network and restructure. Any other business with as many vice presidents, assistant coordinators and directors as the USSA has never lasts that long. They are squandering a huge budget on God-knows-what. If there are any real businessmen among them, they must wake up each day with a sick feeling in their stomachs.

If the USSA truly feels that disabled athletes are second-class citizens and that all their money should go to the "normal" people, then congratulations to them. Their message is loud and clear. I only hope that they can live with themselves after this is over.

-- Zachary I. Billmeier
Atlanta, Ga

Hooray for art coverage

To the Editor:

Thanks for Joanna Roche and the Independent for raising the bar on local arts coverage. Most of the time, the audience for these reviews has more background that the reviewer (i.e., their training is in music, cooking or politics), so it's nice to read some informed writing!

-- Kay Johnson
Colorado Springs

Public enemy #4

To the Editor:

In the Oct. 7 issue of the Independent, Cara DeGette wrote an article titled, "Panel to confront public-health enemy #1." Are you sure about that?

Gun deaths from all causes result in about 36,000 deaths each year.

Deaths from car crashes kill about 43,000 Americans each year.

Deaths from smoking-related causes kill about 430,000 Americans each year.

Deaths from medical errors kill about 120,000 Americans each year.

Perhaps you should ask Dr. Kellerman about this public-health issue.

-- Bernie Herpin
Colorado Springs


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