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Housing is a critical need, one that should command attention

The Lakeville Journal Co. Editorial

What is more basic to the ability of humans to thrive than having a place to live? Maybe good health, which is always a variable. But a home is something that is more controllable if society takes it seriously for all of its members.

In Connecticut, providing housing for all of its citizens is even more challenging than in other states across the country. As covered in the CT Mirror this month, Gov. Ned Lamont and the state Legislature are working on finding ways to help municipalities build affordable units faster, and if that can happen, there will be more local control over what is built where.

According to the CT Mirror, Connecticut lacks about 85,400 units of housing that are affordable and available to its lowest-income renters. They attribute that data to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. They also note that homelessness rose in 2022 for the first time in nearly a decade, and evictions have surged. Rents are rising statewide, and apartment vacancy rates are among the lowest in the country.

How does this play out in the Northwest Corner? Anyone who lives or visits here can see the repercussions of a lack of workforce housing. And there are multiple organizations working to find ways to meet the 10% goal the state has given cities and towns for affordable housing. See the 2022 review story by Debra A. Aleksinas in last week’s Lakeville Journal to better understand the steps each area town is taking to try to solve this ongoing problem.

In Kent, which has had its approach to affordable housing well-honed over years, there are at least 20 new units planned over the next five years. In Cornwall, a forum was held to analyze the best way to increase density in town and provide homeowners with options of sharing their space with others within zoning regulations. In Salisbury, the Salisbury Housing Committee received a donation of five acres of land designated as a site for affordable housing from former selectman and longtime resident Jim Dresser. The Lakeville Holley Block affordable housing initiative is delayed due to a court case that is scheduled to come up on the court docket soon. Keep an eye out in this newspaper for further news on that activity. The newspaper fervently hopes the court case does not delay that well-planned and funded project to the point where it will not move forward.

In New York state, the towns just over the border in Dutchess County have the same challenges, and Amenia has found that despite the fact that the new Silo Ridge luxury housing should also include a percentage of workforce housing, the owners can pay a fee and forego that requirement. This has created pushback from various groups that see the lack of foresight in that approach. For more, go to www.tricornernews.com, and read a news analysis by our reporter Judith O’Hara Balfe in The Millerton News of Dec. 15, 2022.

In order for this region’s communities to continue to not only survive but thrive, more access to affordable and workforce housing is critical. More access to transportation would also help those who wish to work here. Keep watch on our ongoing coverage in 2023 and weigh in with your opinions on these topics in these pages.

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