Last week multiple community organizations, individuals, volunteers and local officials got together to relaunch the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition.
The effort brings together several disparate community groups working on housing and land for housing with a new board of directors and a newly invigorated and enthusiastic group of coalition members whose goals are to address one of the most critical issues affecting the future of our community – housing.
The issue of housing in The Valley goes beyond simply affordable or workforce housing. There’s a real dearth of housing for all age and income levels in our community including young families, seniors, telecommuting professionals and others.
The reconstituted housing coalition is a great first step, one that is critical to addressing this issue comprehensively. It’s exciting that there is so much interest in tackling this and so many people willing to volunteer their time.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that there is now a real concerted local effort to create a local option tax that could provide significant funding for housing, once the structure and needs are in place.
And that’s where political will and local leadership come into play.
In addition to money, the housing coalition is going to need hard data that quantifies the real need for housing, the types, the amount, the ideal locations and more. The Mad River Valley Planning District approved commissioning a study to determine that data as well as a plan to fund half of the cost of the study. The member towns of the planning district have been asked to fund the remaining 50 percent at $1,000 each.
So far, only Warren has approved the expenditure. Fayston has discussed it and wants more information. Waitsfield has not discussed it.
We’re not advocating willy-nilly and frivolous expenditures from the public purse in suggesting that the towns get on board and pony up their share of this study. We’re behind the curve on addressing housing here and it is reasonable to expect our elected officials to take advantage of this moment in time and this momentum.
Political will and local leadership are critical to that effort.