If crime is the public’s No. 1 issue in Jackson, then the second must be housing – and its inextricably interrelated issues of neighborhoods, zoning and schools.
Jackson’s schools have their own issues unrelated to the municipal elections, but how the schools fare are affected by issues which the City Council and mayor can address.
Face it: unless Jackson reclaims a middle class, the future is grim.
As it is, there is simply little housing for the middle class.
Recent studies have found that as many as 10,400 households are looking for new residences in the city. But affordable, new single-family homes – $85,000 to $150,000 – are virtually non-existent. There are very expensive homes and low-income housing but not enough moderate-priced housing. So, in addition to residents moving to suburbs for a variety of reasons, those who want the convenience of living within the city are thwarted.
Meanwhile, too many older neighborhoods are becoming blighted, lowering property values and inviting crime.
The city has responded by focusing on razing dilapidated buildings and tightening zoning laws to protect neighborhoods. There are new efforts at turning downtown into more of a livable residential area, with parks and recreation and inviting residents. But building new neighborhoods and rebuilding old ones must be a priority throughout the city.
Candidates who can show the most detailed vision for housing, with concrete plans for luring residential development, providing incentives for construction, broadening enforcement of city improvement codes, and working with neighborhoods should find eager voters on Election Day.
Clarion Ledger Editorial