There once was a boy standing at the base of a beautiful apple tree. He looked up in longing at the shiny red apples high up in the branches of the tree.
He tried to climb up to them, but there were no sturdy branches within reach to lift himself up.
Along came a man with a brand-new ladder under his arm, which he offered the boy for free, knowing his plight. The boy was elated that this would help him reach the fruit that he desired.
But as he climbed step by step up the rungs of the ladder, his hopes were dashed. The only fruit in reach were a few small, mealy apples. The palatable apples were still out of reach.
Welcome to Payson.
Middle- and lower-income families have been left in a similar dilemma as they search for a way to reach the dream of owning a home in town.
This disturbing situation is exemplified in the troubles the Town of Payson has had in giving away state grants to these families to help them purchase a home. The state funding offers a $10,000 ladder to income-qualified, first-time home buyers for a down payment or closing costs.
But like the apples in the boy's tree, even with this step up, homes are still not within reach due to the lack of affordable housing here.
Under the grant program, an individual who earns $1,500 a month cannot assume a mortgage that exceeds 30 percent of their salary. That's about $500 a month -- or a home mortgage of about $65,000. Mobile homes are not eligible.
There are three homes for sale at this time in this price range in Payson.
The question becomes: Is the ladder too short, or is the tree too tall? We believe the tree is too tall -- $10,000 in cash should be enough to get a family into a home of its own.
Solutions are elusive, but they must be found. The town and our local developers must find ways to graft new branches that will be within reach.