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'Housing as Benefit'

August 23, 1992

Carlos Jackson's call in Speaking Out ("How About Housing Help as Job Benefit?" Aug. 16) for housing subsidies (on top of wages and salaries) as a way of coping with the outlandish cost of Southland housing, makes about as much sense as subsidizing the cost of dope to raise junkies' standard of living.

When an ordinary home in a decent part of town hovers around a quarter million dollars, and only one out of five families even qualifies for financing of a "median" home, things have gone beyond reason. The local economy simply cannot produce high enough wages and salaries to sustain such folly in the long run, and is certain to lose out to competitors with lower cost.

Home ownership for recent buyers is no longer a speculative bonanza, but increasingly a backbreaking economic burden. Money that should have gone into savings, life's comforts, and strengthening of job-generating productive capacity, has been soaked up by outlandish mortgage payments.

Add to that the economic, social and environmental cost of hours of daily commuting (necessary to bridge the distance between outlying homes that are still within the reach of most buyers and their jobs), and the outright absurdity of our predicament becomes obvious.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. It's time to face the painful truth that the cost of California housing needs to be brought down, not propped up.

GIDEON KANNER

Professor of Law, Emeritus

Loyola Law School

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