I have just returned from another affordable housing meeting. By my count, this makes about 12 in the last 25 years. Statistics abounded and basically said the same things they always do except the price tag was much larger now.
Affordable housing is housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a family’s income. We have long known there is an affordable housing problem in The Valley. While many of us sleep comfortably – too many – the low income, the middle class, young families and people on fixed incomes, to name a few, toss and turn wondering how they can afford to keep a roof over their heads.
Frankly, we have to decide whether we want to commit to this problem or not. If past actions predict our future, it seems we have no interest in doing anything about it. At Town Meetings, we seem to have no problem putting up money for just about everything besides affordable housing – unless it’s another study. Meanwhile we complain about shrinking school enrollments. Go figure.
If we are truly interested in doing something, we need to move forward with less talk and more action. After this last meeting, the Community Service Team, a group of volunteers dedicated to making repairs for folks in need of assistance, challenged our presenters: Find us a project. Regardless of whether it is a home remodel, a garage to adapt into an apartment or a new build, we want to add more affordable housing options in The Valley.
My hope is that other organizations and people will join us. The status quo is failing our community. We call a meeting, talk, and then most of us go home to nice warm houses, forgetting all about the families sleeping in their car (yes, in this Valley). Shame on us. I am sick and tired of watching good-intentioned people wash their hands of this problem. Inaction is no action.
Gauthier lives in Waitsfield, Vermont.