Back to the future

A plan to establish minimum standards for rental housing in New Albany continues to languish in the hands of the members of the Board of Aldermen.

The proposed ordinance would set standards for habitation of rental housing and would give the city building inspector the authority to prevent rental units from being occupied if the minimum standards were not met.
The standards are minimal: water, a toilet, sink, bathtub or shower, heat and ventilation, electrical, protection from weather and the like.
An intense lobbying campaign has been mounted against the proposal by a group of landlords. Some operate quality rentals, but others are nothing more than slumlords, allowing their properties and the accompanying neighborhoods to deteriorate.
Because New Albany has no minimum rental standards, we have a higher percentage of low cost and low-quality rentals than many communities in the state. Low-quality rentals lead to declining property values and a decline in the tax base.
As we understand it, Alderman Scott Dunnam, the proposal’s sponsor, has only his vote and one other committed for the proposal. It takes three votes to pass an ordinance in New Albany.
As we see it, increasing our expectations for ourselves and raising the standards in our community on a variety of fronts are key elements to reaping both the quality-of-life and financial rewards that can come from the addition of a major manufacturer such as Toyota.
So far New Albany and Union County have not taken the aggressive, albeit politically difficult steps, to move forward. As other communities, such as Tupelo, change, keeping the status quo actually is moving backward.