Text of my letter to the editor, Bellingham Herald February 22 2012.
In some cities like Bellingham, there is a shortage of rental units leading to rising rents. At the same time, there are homeowners who are about to go into foreclosure because they can barely afford their mortgages. Why can't more of the homeowners take in renters to help pay the bills?
An extra income stream from renters is one way to help homeowners save their homes from foreclosure. At the same time it would provide more places for renters so rents could remain moderate. This could help solve two problems simultaneously.
In some cases, zoning would need to be changed from single-family residential to a less restrictive use that would allow a few rental units in the homes. It doesn't make sense to have much of the land area of our city used up in neighborhoods where the median price of a home is way above what the average person can afford. It also doesn't make sense for renters to face a housing shortage while single-family homes go empty and homeowners cannot afford the payments.
Given today's job market and financial situation, innovative solutions should be tried.
This article was in a recent Herald also about a shortage of rental properties in Bellingham.