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Straight from the Mike…The Tragedy of the Commons


As the relatively mild month of February draws to a close and with it, a month of deserved recognition for black historical individuals who made their indelible marks in our history books, we need to think about some unfinished business in Cobb County. 

First, let us remain in fervent prayer for the citizens and families of Ukraine and the morass that has come upon them from an unbalanced dreadful world tyrant. It should further give cause for thanksgiving and reflection, as we will soon begin a season of sacrifice and recommitment beginning with Ash Wednesday.  

Let me hasten to point out that we are so blessed to be part of a freedom-loving and bountiful nation. It is gratifying as well to have a dynamic language comprised of words, big, and small, mighty and tall. It is with that awesome reflection that I feel compelled to use the aforementioned heading that so appropriately describes the troubling, frustrating, and unnecessary predicament we find ourselves in related to housing in Cobb County.

The levels of frustration, weariness, and borderline despair at family dinner tables around Cobb should be of concern to all of us. The point that I most lament is the fact that much of the situation we are witnessing was recognized, but visionary leadership has remained elusive. I can only attribute the lack of commitment and consistent action on workforce housing, homeownership expansion, and increased housing stock to a lack of political will. For instance, if you have not seen or incurred increases in your living expenses or tried to find housing alternatives, you may not understand the times that now surround us. Simply put, it is bothersome that the will and well-being of so many are being ignored by the actions of just a few people. 

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see nearby counties seizing the moment to undertake such actions as conducting housing assessment surveys, as with Gwinnett County, and looking at meaningful incentives for developers to ‘chum’ the housing waters.  Moreover, the religious community is taking up the mantra and seriously exploring the conversion of church property, sleeping asphalt, and campus property to affordable stable-based housing in the City of Atlanta and Fulton County. 

You should know that we have a plethora of options and alternatives on the shelf waiting to be bought forth for discussion. We have everything from willing and interested developers to committed and inspired banking institutions ready to sit down and work on a plan for progress. I have been an advocate for a Cobb Land Bank and Land Trust. Also, there are other viable remedies to get the ball rolling. It appears that we are just content to expect the ‘Blight Tax’ to be the principal arrow in our quiver. We can and should do better. A good number of people, myself included, are looking for action. 

Do I hear a gasp? Yes, there are viable, measurable options available to counties if they are willing to take the initiative. I am not ignoring the faces at the bottom of the well, as described by Dr. Derrick Bell in his book so titled. I am opining for the working-class families, young professionals, career aspiring individuals, even goldenaires wishing to age in place, and business owners. They know and appreciate the value of work. They want to live, stay, or move to Cobb.  They are like so many residents, just trying to get ‘over the hump’. We all are very much aware of the recent jump in rental increases and the likely upswing in mortgage interest rates. 

Conspicuously absent in my discussion is the area of homelessness. It is a worthy subject of note to be put on the table on another day, where it can be front and center. For example, I remember well during a trip, years past, as part of a presidential delegation to Benin, Africa. We did a stopover in Senegal. During our visit to the presidential palace there I happened to be seated next to the housing minister. I asked him about homelessness to which he responded quite succinctly, they are out during the day but at night, everyone is someone’s cousin. They are not left on the streets. Needless to say, I was impressed with his response. 

Let me not forget to offer my sincere congratulations to the Cobb Housing Authority, its Chairman Marvin Shams, and its new member, Tyronda Minter as they are making a difference and meaningful strides in addressing the housing needs of our county by facilitating and funding down payment assistance for aspiring homeowners who work for our county. 

Until next time… 

Michael Murphy


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