UP to the organizers of Affordable Housing Awareness Week for putting together an informative set of panel discussions June 21-25 that helped shine a light on the problem in Cheyenne, along with possible solutions.

Some people may not have realized that housing is only considered “affordable” when it requires someone to spend 30% or less of their income on rent or mortgage payments. By that measure, Cheyenne is currently experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing options.

So what’s the solution? We were particularly impressed with the public-private partnership discussed during a panel hosted by the Loveland (Colorado) Housing Authority and Loveland Habitat for Humanity. Not only have the two organizations teamed up to have a stronger, more unified voice in the community, the city of Loveland puts 1.25% of its sales tax revenue in an affordable housing fund, which results in $400,000 to $500,000 annually to offset Habitat’s homebuilding fees.

And thanks to a land donation by Grace Community Church to Habitat for Humanity, 47 Habitat-built homes and 120 affordable apartment units are planned for the space. These housing units will be available for people who make between 30% and 69% of the area’s median income.

Cheyenne is developing an Affordable Housing Task Force, and we encourage its members – as well as Mayor Patrick Collins and the City Council – to consider similar efforts here.

Members of the local nonprofits My Front Door, Family Promise of Cheyenne, the COMEA House and Resource Center, Habitat for Humanity of Laramie County and the Unaccompanied Students Initiative deserve praise for working together to raise the level of awareness and spurring community discussion of this critical issue.

UP to state lawmakers on the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee for considering a bill that would let county clerks in Wyoming process absentee ballots before Election Day.

As the 2020 election revealed, more and more residents seem to prefer voting from home to going to the polls (and we don’t think that was just due to COVID-19). If that trend continues, election workers will be tasked with running more absentee ballots through voting machines manually, which is time consuming.

At the same time, Wyoming residents are used to getting election results on election night, not several days later. If lawmakers want that to continue, they need to pass this bill.

DOWN to Wyoming Liberty Group founder Susan Gore for allegedly financing a pair of “spies” to infiltrate several political organizations in the state, including executive leadership of the Wyoming Democratic Party.

Thanks to a New York Times investigation, this corruption was exposed. But we have to wonder why a wealthy conservative donor like Ms. Gore thought it was necessary in the first place. After all, Republicans far outnumber Democrats in Wyoming, and if the 2020 election proved anything, it was that intelligent, thoughtful Democrats have an uphill battle against conservative Republicans simply because of their political affiliation.

Yet the distrust and outright paranoia that led to this betrayal of trust shouldn’t be that surprising, given the current state of politics in our country. It’s simply the continuation of a trend that has included distrust at both ends of the political spectrum and dark money playing a larger and larger role.

Unfortunately, this scandal will surely result in Wyoming politicians distrusting others even more in the future, and in a sparsely populated state that has always prided itself in working together for the good of all, the fallout could make things even more difficult.

But if there’s some good news to take from this story, it’s the fact that politicians of all stripes, and those connected to them, sensed something wasn’t right and refused to let these political operatives have the keys and get behind the wheel. We just hope that continues to be the case going forward.

In the meantime, sensible Republicans need to step up, state clearly that these actions don’t represent most members of their party and get more involved in party leadership. Otherwise, the things Ms. Gore and her ilk fear most may come to pass – because, not in spite, of their actions.

UP to the city of Cheyenne for formally opening the East Cheyenne Community Open Space this week.

The 105-acre future home of an east side park is located at the southwest corner of East Pershing Boulevard and Whitney Road. The land was purchased with sixth-penny sales tax funds, so it’s appropriate for it to be open to the public, even though it hasn’t been developed yet.

But as with all public spaces, now it is up to all of us to keep it clean so everyone can enjoy it. We encourage safe, responsible use of this new amenity by all residents, in all situations. We’ll see you there!

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