Manor expands

Methodist Manor’s announcement last week that it will add 48 beds to its retirement community was welcome news on many fronts. First, it would appear that the non-profit long associated with Storm Lake has its finances in order. Second, there is strong demand to retire in The City Beautiful for its cultural, recreational and educational offerings. Third, it will help ease the community’s housing shortage.

The third factor might be the most important in the short run.

City officials contend that we are several hundred housing units short for a growing blue-collar workforce. The problem is common in rural Iowa: There is not enough income in rural places to justify new construction (lumber is as expensive in Storm Lake as it is in Clive) and the developers with the deepest pockets who can afford risk are not in Northwest Iowa.

Storm Lake has had some success in attracting outside developers who, armed with low-income housing tax credits, are sprouting more than 70 apartment units here. Those projects go in fits and starts as the Iowa Housing Finance Authority permits.

Methodist Manor’s expansion could be seen as the equivalent of building an apartment box on the edge of town, in terms of market effect. When those new beds are full, anywhere from 24 to 48 other housing units will free up for new residents. Many of them are single-family homes.

It’s the best way for housing to develop. The developer is local. To our understanding, no extraordinary tax incentives are involved. The new tenants have money and almost always have strong community ties.

The new residents of the west wing, where the old hospital once stood, may come from Lake Pointe Villa or Otsego Place as their needs increase. It still frees up more local housing stock outside the retirement community.

The manor project is also a big deal for the jobs it will create and the spinoffs in the goods and services purchased by the growing client base in the retirement community. It will give families one more important option to consider as their loved ones need a more structured living environment.

It’s all to the good. We can’t wait to see the construction start.

Latino disaffection, Part II

Democrats, we recently argued, have only themselves to blame for alienating their biggest voting bloc: immigrants, especially Latinos and Asians. We noted how immigration reform advocates are giving up on the Obama Administration for its failure to move immigrants’ rights forward. Comes now The New York Times with a justification for the disappointment, turning to anger, among Latinos in particular:

The newspaper, after filing a Freedom of Information request, determined that two-thirds of the two million deportees by the Obama Administration were people who had committed minor infractions, such as traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. About 20% of the cases involved serious criminals.

Obama ran and won office promising comprehensive immigration reform. Then he stood by while the Senate bill died in the House because progressives had done so little to get rid of the likes of Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, who wants to ship out some 14 million undocumented immigrants.

The Obama Administration has shipped out more Latinos than the Bush and Clinton administrations combined.

“In truth, this administration — more than any other — has devastated immigrant communities across the country, tearing families away from loved ones, simply because they drove without a license, or re-entered the country desperately trying to be reunited with family members,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

The President has not been true to his promise. He would blame the obstacles presented by an absolute refusal of the House to consider any sort of legalization of the undocumented illegal immigrant.

Progressives count on Latinos, Asians and African-Americans turning out in the mid-term elections to retain control of the Senate and make some progress in statehouses. But what incentive do they have, when the Democrats can only point to little people like Rep. Louie Goehmert, R-Texas, or King, as standing in the way of compassionate reform?

A rise in the minimum wage? Not there. An increase in voting rights? We’re heading in the opposite direction. Treatment over incarceration for blacks convicted of minor drug offenses? They’re still in jail.

Things will have to get worse before they get better. Obama must recognize how he has frittered away his base with middling politics.