EDA board continues to vet housing concerns

By Per Peterson

There’s no debate about the need for more housing in Tracy. One of the housing-related questions that came up at last week’s EDA meeting, however, was, what kind of housing is most needed and more beneficial to the city?

EDA Director Jeff Carpenter reminded the EDA board that he has “quite a laundry list” of people waiting to get into Orchard Lane.

“They’re always full, and if we were to build six more (homes) out there, we would fill them right away,” he said. “Is it going to cash flow? It is not, because you cannot charge enough rent here in the city of Tracy to cash flow. Let me tell you, in 15 years from now, whoever decided to build at Orchard Lane will look like a hero because you’re going to have all that equity out there. But right now it doesn’t pay for itself and we’re charging about as much as we can.”

Carpenter said hypothetically if another six homes were built at Orchard Lane, it would mean four empty houses in town that would be put on the block and could draw in more families.

“You’ve gotta make the decision, no matter how it hurts, to move forward with housing,” he said. “We are a bedroom community … you’ve gotta have places for people to live if you want them to stay here, contribute to the tax base, shop at our hardware stores, buy cars here, get their oil changed here. You’ve gotta have a reason for them to be here and housing is a big reason.”

Carpenter recently shared a letter from a resident about the need for more housing in Tracy. The author referenced her mother, who has a strong desire to stay in Tracy but is aware of the waiting list at Orchard Lane.

“We have concern in the city about our housing shortage,” said Carpenter, who has made improving housing a main focus since he started as EDA director. “It’s just not in Tracy, it’s every town, especially towns this size. If we don’t do it … just because it doesn’t cash flow … is that the end? Do we just cut it off and not put anything out there?”

Carpenter was looking for direction from the EDA board on what his next move should be to address the city’s housing shortage.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.