To The Editor:

There is much talk, has been for over 30-plus years, about housing in the Mad River Valley that is affordable for the rest of us. In an article last week, it was brought up that we need a local option tax (LOT) to have affordable housing; this is simply not true.

Our housing issues in the Mad River Valley are totally of our own creation; thankfully because of this we only need to change our minds and the rules in order to bring about positive change. The American dream is to have homeownership; it is simply the best and easiest way for people to bring themselves out of generational poverty: own your own home.

In The Valley, should I desire to build an 8,000-square-foot home on an acre of land, I simply walk into the office, fill out the form and get my permit. After a 30-day wait period I can commence building.

Now, should I want to build that same 8,000-square-foot building and house the same number of people, in eight separate condominiums, same septic, same water, the task would be daunting, formidable and expensive. This is the sole and defining reason we don’t have reasonable housing. Two people on minimum wage could easily afford the homes I speak of, 600- to 1,000-square-foot, good quality, modest homes. They would look good. There are other options if we only allow them.

Small changes in zoning can have a drastic positive effect. Simply allowing boarding homes would be transformational, suddenly B&Bs that have been on the market for eight years would be sellable, people would have instant workforce housing, housing for people of modest means, retirement shelter; a major problem solved, all the while people building their own communities.

Vermonters are suffering from an affordability problem and it’s entirely of our own creating. Hopefully those in the Mad River Valley can come together in a new spirit, of loving our neighbors, breaking down the cronyism barriers that keep everyone from the American dream of homeownership.

Neil Johnson

Waitsfield, Vermont