first_imgTo adequately manage primary, secondary and feeder roads in the country would require US$100 million every year, for the next 20 years, Public Works Minister, William Gyude Moore has said.Minister Moore made the assertion yesterday at the Ministry of Information’s regular press briefing in Monrovia.He said the US$27 million provided by the government in this year’s budget for construction and pavement of roads is “very little, considering the huge challenges facing many roads in the country.”He said US$4 million within the US$27 million of this year’s budget is for road maintenance, while the balance US$23 million is intended for road construction.Minister Moore said since the inception of Madam Sirleaf’s administration, the government has focused largely on primary and secondary roads throughout the country, while partners continue to handle most of the feeder roads.“We may get involved in taking care of feeder roads, but for the next four years, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be financing many of its projects to ensure that communities and neighborhoods are connected,” Minister Moore said.He added, “450KM of feeder roads will be financed by USAID while we will be extending that program to the south east of the country to ensure that since our partners are active on feeder roads, we can focus on primary and secondary roads.”He said the government will continue to invest in primary and secondary roads to ensure that county capitals and major roads are fully connected across the country.Minister Moore explained further that the government and its partners have spent a little over US$700 million on roads, but their maintenance remain a cardinal issue, considering the heavy rainy season in the country.In a related development, the Minister also disclosed that Caldwell Bridge has been completed and plans for its official dedication are in process.He said Liberia’s road network is about 10,000km and many of the people in the rural areas have to walk several hours before reaching to the nearest road.“We have a very limited road network and less than 10 percent is paved. We are talking about paving the remaining 700km of roads including all major streets in the country,” he said.The ministry is focusing on paving streets in all county capitals at a cost amounting to US$2.2 billion.Primary roads connect to city capitals or lead to international borders while secondary roads connect to primary roads and feeder roads connect with farm-to-market roads, homes and other places.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

first_imgShare15TweetShare3Email18 SharesNovember 3, 2016; Next CityA new report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley is generating some buzz in the rental advocacy world. The report “costs out” the Federal Assistance In Rental (FAIR) program, which would provide a tax credit to lower income households that are rent burdened, which means “paying more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.” (The report does not specify whether gross or net income is used in the calculation.) The report offers three options for a renter tax credit that could expand resources going to rental households while reducing the outlays for existing subsidy programs.The Rent Affordability option would make up the difference between a household’s rent and the HUD-established Small Area Fair Market Rent so that the household pays no more than 30 percent of its income in rent. Any household that is below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) and rent burdened would be eligible. To provide full coverage for 13.3 million households, the report estimates a cost of $76B, but notes that some of the cost could be offset by reduced spending for housing choice vouchers and homeless services.The Rent Reduction option would provide a credit to more families, 15.1 million, but credits would be capped at a lower level of 12 to 33 percent of rent. While this plan would leave households with some rent burden, nearly all renters making less than 80 percent of AMI would receive some financial relief. Rent Reduction option would be much cheaper ($41B) than the Rent Affordability option.A Composite plan would offer the Rent Reduction option to the majority of households and the more ambitious Rent Affordability option to a smaller number of extremely low-income families. The composite plan would assist 15.1 million households at a cost of $43B. To address the problems reaching extremely low income households, the credit in the Composite plan could be provided to landlords, more like a housing choice voucher.Anticipating some “sticker shock,” the Terner study’s authors, Carol Galante, Carolina K. Reid, and Nathaniel Decker, offer some suggestions for implementation that might lower the cost. However, they caution that these restrictions could undermine the savings that could be realized in existing programs. Interestingly, the study has suggested a pilot project to assess how the FAIR plan would impact families and housing markets. The idea of test-driving a radical new policy makes some sense since there may be cost savings from a reduction in eviction and an enhancement of household mobility. A pilot might give some clues about whether a renter subsidy would improve or degrade housing quality standards. Would the absence of regulatory standards lead tenants to choose lower quality units, or would households use their enhanced “buying power” to choose better quality units? Probably some of both.There are five good reasons for the new Congress and the president-elect to consider a renter’s tax credit.Rents continue to rise faster than tenant incomes, causing rent burden for half of the renter households in the U.S.Cost of a renter tax credit could be offset by a decrease in the mortgage interest deduction credit, which goes to the wealthiest property owners.Because of funding restrictions, only about one-fourth of households who are eligible to receive a federal housing subsidy are actually receiving help. A tax credit would go to all eligible renters. The Fair Plan would cover roughly three times the households currently receiving federal assistance through public housing, housing choice vouchers, and project-based rental assistance.Unlike existing subsidy programs, tax credits would be cheaper to administer than existing housing programs, which have volumes of regulations that are administered by thousands of private landlords and public housing authorities.Republicans in Congress seem to be more favorable to tax credits than appropriations (spending). Consider Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Earned Income Tax Credits.Administrative savings from a simpler administration does not mean administration is simple. Even though a renter’s tax credit could reduce lots of bureaucracy, the IRS would need to figure out the right level of support for each household based on household income, the amount of rent they pay, and the fair market rent in their community. That’s a lot of math. Then too, Congress would need to figure what to do for households that don’t file income taxes or households that have less conventional living situations. Finally, there would need to be a way for households to receive their credit monthly in order to pay rent. Usually, tax credits come annually. At least initially it could be hard for a household to figure out what level of subsidy they are likely to receive, making it hard to make reasonable choices. One can imagine a new cadre of “navigators” like those created for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.Under a system of renter tax credits, tenants would need to become their own inspectors, financial managers, and code enforcers. No one from government will be checking for housing quality standards, rent reasonableness, or unconscionable lease provisions. That could mean tenants would need more reliance on private counselors and legal services agencies for support when things go wrong in the landlord-tenant relationship. On the other hand, tenants with a renter tax credit would not face the roadblock of discrimination based on source of income.It is hard to assess the likelihood of a renter tax credit in the near future. Tax reform seems to be on the short list for congressional action in 2017, but, as usual, rental housing is not high on the agenda. The FIRED (Finance, Investor, Real Estate, Developer) lobbyists will be opposed to shifting tax benefits away from wealthy property owners to tenants. Still, the concept has been endorsed by a wide variety of groups and rental tax credits could meet some objectives of Republicans who know they need to govern, not just obstruct. Many in Congress represent low-income renters who are expecting something tangible in return for their support for President-elect Trump. Others in Congress might see renter tax credits as a counter to the wave of rent control measures bubbling up from local areas. Time will tell.—Spencer WellsShare15TweetShare3Email18 Shareslast_img read more