By PJ Martin
I finally found the time to read over the copy of the BRADD strategic plan for Metcalfe County this week. It’s a nice little book with a lot of plans for the future in it, but with just one problem – who is actually going to keep up with and document all these so-called improvements? BRADD representatives? The people on the various committees?
The book lists 28 individuals as part of the steering committee some of which hold offices and some are citizens of the county. I really do applaud these people for trying to do their part to help this county.
Now, I am not on any of the committees nor am I a person responsible for any of the plans and I really do not mean to sound so negative, but there are a lot of timelines listed for the projects that do not appear to be met. I apologize if I am being blatantly honest, but I haven’t seen or heard about any goals met in any of the categories listed so far.
For example: Category – Affordable Quality Housing – Objective #3 – Work with the Housing Committee to create a centralized hub of housing resources and affordable housing options (both rental and for purchase) throughout Metcalfe County – Timeline 2/1/22 – 6/1/22.
If this centralized hub of housing resources has been created, would someone on that committee please tell me? I would like to let the public know about it. Some of the committees are probably still searching for grants or other funding. If they are I have not heard one word about it and I personally attend and cover several of the county and city meetings.
Metcalfe County needs more safe, decent, and affordable housing. I’m not talking about great big homes, but smaller starter homes and rental units that are reasonable. In the last couple of years, rent prices have skyrocketed as well as the price of homes. Personally, I could never pay $700 – $1,200 a month in rent and still afford food and there are very few jobs in this county that would allow anyone else to.
Too many are living paycheck to paycheck and with the cost of food, utilities, and gas rising it leaves very little if any for rent or a house payments. The number one question I get at the newspaper office is, “Do you know anyone with a house or apartment that I can rent?”
What this county needs is good paying jobs and lots of them! True, we have a couple of factories that employ a lot of people, but we need more. Also needed is childcare services that will allow those parents to work. I have witnessed a lot of women lose their jobs, because they had sick children or no babysitter. Plus, those jobs need to pay enough for those parents to afford childcare.
The book lists the population of Metcalfe County in 2020 as 10,286 with 21.4% below the poverty level and 17.6 % of those as food insecure. I’m sure Bowling Parks Food Pantry workers could tell you the percentage is likely much higher than that. After all, they are once again having to build a larger food pantry just four years after the last construction.
The park also has temporary housing for homeless people. They aren’t permanent, but are meant to help the person get back on their own two feet. Again, where does that person go for affordable housing once they get a job? There are a few Section 8 housing complexes in Edmonton and those few apartments aren’t even putting a dent in the problem. The waiting list is massive.
Most people would agree, what Metcalfe County needs is good-paying jobs, affordable home options, and somewhere to buy what they need without traveling to Glasgow or Columbia.