Dear Editor: I have enjoyed living in Madison County for the last five years and am seeing it grow faster than I had ever imagined. When I chose to purchase a home in Madison County, I was told that this was a rural, peaceful area with affordable housing for people living in all socio-economic statuses. Over the past few years, I have seen housing prices soar, new developments go up in seemingly every corner of the county and both the county and my beloved city of Hull be forced to seriously consider their plan to adapt to the increased demand for housing in the coming decades.

According to your Sept. 2 issue, Madison County has seen a six-percent population increase over the last decade while Hull, specifically, has seen 16-percent growth. The City of Hull has been working tirelessly to craft new zoning ordinances in our city that are relevant and responsive to the needs of our little community and I have noticed that in these zoning changes, new mobile homes are now prohibited within city limits (section 3-10).

This new change causes me concern as there is an increasingly diminished supply of affordable housing in this community. According to Realtor.com, Hull’s a sellers’ market, meaning there are more people looking to live here than there are houses on the market. Furthermore, the median sold home price is $351,000 and home values are increasing at a rate of 13.7 percent year-over-year! While I, as a homeowner, appreciate the added equity in my home, I am very concerned for those in our community who are not currently homeowners. Where will adult children be able to live that is close to their extended family but affordable as a first home? Where will those who were left unemployed by the pandemic and with bad credit live if they cannot be approved for a substantial mortgage? Hull currently has two houses on the market for rent, both at about $400/room, leaving someone renting a three-bedroom home paying as much per month in rent as they would for a $300,000 mortgage. To top this off, the median household income in Hull is $26,250 (US Census Data)!

Where shall these neighbors of ours live? Because Hull does not have any government housing or any apartments, I suggest we prioritize access to mobile homes in order to fill the gap for our community’s most vulnerable. When mobile homes are brought into the equation, individuals and families who are priced out of the traditional home buying market and unable to afford the rent for comparable homes have the ability to live in secure housing. While I recognize that mobile homes rarely have the reputation of being “pretty” or of increasing neighboring property values, I would hope that we, as a community, are capable of prioritizing reasonable solutions to housing issues that would benefit someone other than ourselves. Used mobile homes can be bought cheaply, repaired affordably and moved into quickly.

I love living in this community because I do have a wide diversity of neighbors — some rich, some poor. Some are black, some are white. Some are immigrants, some have been in these very neighborhoods for generations. And, up until this point, all have been kind, considerate, generous and worthy of thoughtful plans to maintain their presence in this sweet little community.

When the City of Hull considers adapting their new zoning ordinances on October 21, it is my recommendation that this provision be removed and commit to making strides to guarantee that this city remains a lovely place for all.

Sincerely,

Sarah Thurman

Hull

(1) comment

Virginia Moss

When I first moved to Madison County 13 years ago the county had a long-time ordinance that did not allow for older mobile homes to be brought into the county. That was deemed to be illegal and taken off the books. Is it legal to create this new zoning in Hull? I agree with Ms. Thurman that municipalities should allow low cost housing of all kinds, including tiny houses and manufactured homes. Otherwise, what happens is that the poor are more and more moved out further and further until you have circumstances like San Francisco and New York City where no low level workers can live anywhere near the cities that need them and only the uber-rich can afford to live within those cities. New York had to instigate rent control just to fill low-level jobs. Like everything in life, balance is the answer. Affordable housing is a national problem that must be addressed. Hull could start now to address it by not discriminating against low wage workers and poor folks.

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