I just read the article in the Star Observer titled “The hurdles and hoops of affordable housing.” I’m saddened to think so many people in our communities oppose the building or remodeling of existing buildings for affordable housing when there is such a need for it in western Wisconsin.

The article referenced a building in Prescott that was proposed where “the rent was to be $800-$1,100 per month” and that the “income limits would mean about $42,000 for a one-person household and about $65,000 for a five-person household. The one-person rate, he said, would equate to a $20 per hour job, of which he argued would be found at a nearby warehouse.”

There are many people working and trying to live in our communities that do not make $20 per hour and would struggle to pay even the $800 per month rent. I’m talking about young men and women in their 20s and elderly people on fixed incomes. It is any wonder why many adult children move out but have to move back home with their parents? Even those with brand new college degrees (and college debt) sometimes struggle to pay $800 per month for rent.

And let’s have a conversation about mental illness. There is a need for affordable housing for those that deal with mental illness as well. However, there is a stigma that associates mental illness with crime. In reality, those with mental illnesses are not likely to be the cause of violent crime, but are the victims of violent crime because they can be more vulnerable to violence.

These people need our understanding, not our judgment. There is just as much violence happening behind closed doors in the nicest of neighborhoods — just ask anyone working for Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. If it seems like more issues happen at affordable housing complexes, it’s only because there are more people condensed into one location. I’ve heard someone that works in public housing state indicate 95% of their issues come from 1% of their residents.

We need to start supporting one another and supporting programs that help those that are working hard but just starting out like our young people, those that cannot work for reasons beyond their control like some of our mentally ill or disabled and those who have worked and spent their lives in our community and are retired like our elderly and need affordable housing. Honestly, they deserve our respect.

Affordable housing does not cause problems … affordable housing solves problems.

Jill (McConville) Lyksett