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Our home, our future

Voices from the Salisbury community about the housing needed for a healthy, economically vibrant future

“Big Papi” Luis Vargas works as a cook at LaBonne’s Market. Bob LaBonne could not praise him highly enough, saying, “He’s a great guy, hard working, steady and reliable. He’s like a father to some of the other employees, hence the nickname ‘Big Papi.’ ”

Luis was helped with temporary housing by a friend in the community while he waited for an apartment to become available at Sarum Village, the affordable housing complex on Cobble Road near Noble Horizons. After filling out the application, which included financial information and letters of reference, it took a year before a vacancy opened up.

When asked about his new home his face lit up with a broad smile. He says he’s very happy and loves his new apartment. “Everything is new and really nice.” While he only moved in recently, he’s happy that his neighbors are friendly and there are children nearby. He’s also able to walk to work, which is critical since he doesn’t own a car. Finding a stable, safe, affordable home has relieved a tremendous amount of stress and allows him to concentrate on his job, which he loves. 

 

Anyone who has shopped at LaBonne’s knows assistant produce manager Brian Prince. He’s the fourth person in his family to work there and, at 28, he’s been a reliable employee of LaBonne’s for 12 years. During that time, he has lived with different roommates, including another LaBonne’s employee, and is currently living in Torrington with his father. He would love to live in Salisbury but his income has made living without a roommate impossible and home ownership inconceivable. 

He says he loves the Salisbury community and the nature that surrounds us. A home here would allow him to be fully independent and save him the hour and a half commute each day, the cost of gas and the wear and tear on his car. He’d be able to enjoy spending more time with family and friends and get more involved with the community. An affordable rental apartment, even a studio apartment in the $700-800 per month range, would make that dream come true. He’s looked for years for a home in Salisbury without any luck. 

Young adults like Brian are necessary for our local businesses to succeed and our community to thrive. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we depend upon them every day. 

Mary Close Oppenheimer is a local artist who has been part of the Lakeville/Salisbury community for 30 years.