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Affordable housing already thrives; why not build more?

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

What does it mean that the current affordable housing in Northwest Corner towns is solidly booked, most often with waiting lists? According to Kent Affordable Housing’s President Virginia Bush Suttman, their 24 units at South Common and 13 at Stuart Farm are fully occupied, and the group is always scouting for the next opportunities to help fulfill the need. Peter Halle, co-president of the Salisbury Housing Committee, says all 33 units at Faith House and Sarum Village I and II are full, with a long wait list. “That problem does not abate,” he said.

Given that it is already the case that the affordable housing operating in each community is well-used, one would think each town could find enthusiastic support for additional housing that would serve those in the community who need to find homes that are easier to maintain and pay for. After all, can anyone point to those who already fully occupy such housing in each town as having any kind of a detrimental effect on their surroundings? On the contrary, they are in general very much part of communities in which they live and contribute to their continued vitality.

As Labor Day has just passed, it’s a good time to take note of the employers in the area who are trying to fill positions crucial to their operations. If you’ve kept track of the help wanted ads in this newspaper alone, you will have noticed that the private and public schools as well as banks and health care facilities are searching for people to fill jobs. And in last week’s Lakeville Journal, there were 18 educators in Region One who are either brand new or new to different positions at each school. 

All these folks have to live somewhere, and wouldn’t it be better if they could live closer by, rather than having to drive a distance to arrive at their jobs?

With the restrictions due to the global pandemic being pulled back somewhat, and in that many of the jobs in the area require in-person work no matter the circumstances, the need to provide more affordable housing in the region is only increasing. 

Kudos to all those volunteers who have been working to find sites and strategies to build more such housing. The need is clear. It’s the path to addressing that need that is often not clear enough, or easily agreed upon. 

Now is the time to find common ground to make the current projects happen if our towns are going to be viable as fully functioning communities in the future, even the near future.

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