Matthew Pinsonneault has worked in the hospitality business in The Valley and Vermont for over 20 years and he’s been at his current full-time, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job for seven years. His partner of five years, Joe Gratton, also works full-time locally.
They’re a family of three -- including their 10-year-old black Lab, Flint. They’ve been living in an apartment in Warren for the last five years and that property was sold last summer. The new owners honored the terms of their lease, which expires April 1, and Pinsonneault and Gratton have been searching unsuccessfully for a new home since they received notice that their lease would not be renewed in late January.
They reached out to a local realtor to be told there was nothing available. They searched Craigslist and have posted on Front Porch Forum. They did get an offer to rent a four bedroom house for $3,000 a month plus most of the utilities but they would need to find several other people to share the house with them.
“But you can’t grab three or four friends and all share a house without making it even more tentative,” Pinsonneault.
Pinsonneault came to The Valley in 2001 and worked at Sugarbush when it was owned by ASC. He was there when former owner Win Smith was getting a tour of the property. He lived in employee housing for a year and enjoyed it for a year, but then couldn’t find a place to live – even at that time.
He moved in with his parents in Orwell, where he grew up and then lived and worked in Rutland until 2008 when he had the opportunity to move back to The Valley. He had one apartment from 2008 to 2015 and then another apartment for two years and this current home for five years.
“We’re good tenants. We pay the rent on time. We don’t work for a company like Sugarbush that offers employee housing. It’s not like we’re J1 visa students who can stay two to a dorm room. We’re grown ups, we have furniture,” Pinsonneault said.
As they’ve searched they’ve considered places in Roxbury or Rochester but moving that far away presents issues when it comes to commuting to their jobs in terms of how much time it takes as well as the issue of winter travel (and now increasing gas prices).
“Joe said to me that it feels like The Valley is pushing us out,” Pinsonneault recalled.
‘This isn’t a matter of us not having the ability to pay first, last and security and a pet deposit. We can. We have saved up for rainy day occasions. But there’s nothing to rent,” he said.
“There’s a balance that needs to happen between local workers and employers. There’s a lot of places, like Mehuron’s that won’t be able to find employees in the off months,” he added.
He talked about finding an Airbnb listing for a local house where he used to live. At the time he lived there it housed two families in two apartments.
“Now it’s empty a lot of the time and two local families have lost a year-round rental. That hurt. We know people who have been unable to find places to live so had to leave their year-round employment at Sugarbush and lost their insurance because of it,” he said.
He said they have friends who are willing to let them stay with them for a short time and they’d have to put their stuff in storage.
If they have to leave The Valley, he said he’d be willing to stay with friends and help his employers while they find someone to replace him. But where will his replacement live?
“We’re fairly well known in The Valley, we both love to wear kilts. Having grown up in a small town like Orwell, I love that small town feel here. As we get closer and closer to April 1, it seems maybe we’ll have to leave,” he said.