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A step forward for affordable housing

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

It’s not that often we can celebrate around the topic of affordable housing in the Northwest Corner. Yet here we are. Sarum Village III in Salisbury, as reported here last week by Debra Aleksinas, has been given the green light to receive $1.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by around May 20. That means the next run of affordable housing for the town of Salisbury can be under construction by this summer.

Thanks go to the Salisbury Housing Committee, headed by Salisbury’s Peter Halle, which has been patient for two years awaiting the release of this money. This shows how not only patient but long-term goal oriented those who are trying to implement affordable housing here must be to experience success.

The result of this funding will be that 10 additional units will be added to Sarum Village, where 24 already exist. Does it mean Salisbury will be closer to the state mandated housing deemed affordable? Yes, but as those who keep track of this issue know, there is much more to be done. There are 40 households on a waiting list for Sarum Village and Faith House in Salisbury, so those 10 units will be filled immediately, and still leave 30 families out in the cold.

For anyone who is under the illusion that this project will suffice to meet enough families’ needs to keep the community functioning, those 30 wait listed households should make clear it is not the case. As has been noted here many times before, the area needs more younger families, even after an influx of full-time residents during COVID transitions. There are still volunteer positions looking for people to fill them, and these are critical to the quality of life here in the Northwest Corner.

Those new volunteers will only come from the group of full-time residents who have the time and energy to step forward and help their neighbors. It’s a culture that may not be completely understood by those new residents who came from urban areas where fire departments and emergency services are paid positions, not volunteer. If there isn’t room here for some of those people who will volunteer, the way of life here will change dramatically and quickly.

If you are interested in keeping track of what the situation is for affordable housing for all the towns in the Tristate region, including both Connecticut and New York state, read the story on Cornwall this week by Debra Aleksinas. Also keep watch for this year’s issue of Towns & Villages, the special section coming up May 19. You will see it show up in your newspaper, and in high-traffic areas for free pickup around the Tristate region. It will not only reflect each town’s government, statewide representatives, resources and services, but also have stories for each town describing  its affordable housing situation.

Read about your town, and surrounding towns, and then see if you can volunteer to help increase the likelihood that more housing will be approved over the next years. And look into volunteering for other agencies in your town that need your support to survive.

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