Affordable housing can’t wait

Affordable housing can’t wait

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To the Editor:

Throughout the world, large numbers of adults and children are living without any shelter to protect them from weather that is extremely hot or cold. In major cities, due to the sheer number of them, their plight is very obvious. In smaller towns and cities,they are much less visible, so that the problem can be more readily ignored. Yet, whether  hidden from view or exposed to the public, their lives remain the same.

Some people believe that this is due to laziness. However, there are many other reasons that this situation exists, i.e., lack of available jobs, physically unable to work, or fragility. Without family or friends, their fate depends on chance.

According to the Martha’s Vineyard 2014 Housing Needs Assessment, there are 2,245 households with average median incomes below $68,800 for a family of four. The average price of a home on the Vineyard is approximately $500,000, so purchase is out of the realm of working couples desiring to live on the Island. Renting costs are also generally beyond their reach.

Although agencies provide some units of affordable housing, the waiting list for them exceeds 200 applicants.The lack of year-round rentals or affordable houses for sale is largely a function of two things: the resort economy’s emphasis on seasonal rentals, or second home purchases by affluent buyers. This resulting lack of affordable housing will continue to deplete already strained services such as healthcare, education, mental health and service industries.

Therefore, I feel that housing efforts must be started and can no longer wait for an improvement in the economy.

Abe Seiman

Oak Bluffs


    1. Your comment shows a lack of understanding of the situation. For the island economy to survive, we need a healthy middle-class community. These are the folks who do the landscaping, teach the children, work in the supermarkets, and provide other essential services (fuel, healthcare, administrative, construction). MV has the second highest housing costs in the state while people who live here are earn much less than statewide average. People spend 60% of their income on housing alone. These people are leaving (see the report) which does not bode well for the economic future of the island.

      Secondly, there are many people who have lived here all their lives as have their parents and grandparents. These conditions mean they need to look long and hard at whether they can stay in the place they call home or if they have to pick up and start over away from friends and family.

      1. I am quite happy to have the invisible hand of capitalism function efficiently. Let the marketplace function . Brazilians came under the umbrella of high prices and found work. If demand exceeds supply prices will go up and more will find work. This is a destination resort and middle class is always squeezed in such places. If we don’t have teachers and landscapers and other services, the vacuum will be filled by a new demographic and a new formulation. Workers have flooded to north Dakota due to fracking, and they will leave MV if they can’t make it and the wealthy will survive just fine. Social planning is misguided and never works. I would like to bring 5000 republicans to live here so I won’t be such a minority.

        1. By letting the marketplace function, you must accept illegal immigrant labor as necessary to the workforce. The expression “what the market will bear” is not just the sticker price in the store, but the cost of creating those goods and services. To restrict immigrant labor is government intervention in free market.

          As for your prediction involving the rich on the Vineyard, I agree. My prediction is the rich will be happy when the island has effectively become a gated community.

          1. But they’ll be pretty upset when there’s no one to wait tables at their favorite restaurant, on one to pump gas into their Range Rovers and no shopping because there’s no one to work the counter and the shop keepers can’t afford a year’s rent.

          2. Shh. They just want all the money and property. They haven’t thought through all the details.

          3. And you must accept the wealthy. They are more hated and more of a minority than Republicans on MV, but they contribute more and support, not just the island building and landscape tradespeople, but also help pay the costs of dealing with the enormous social ills. Who contributes the most to Community Service? Who paid for our hospital– that continues to be used by uninsured, entitled young locals after they have accidents, pregnancies, UTI’s, Lyme, etc– and pay not one cent for their ER bill? Get real.

          4. I am not a libertarian. Government intervention to stop crime is essential and I want government to stop illegal immigration. If the state will not prevent illegals on MV then it lives with the consequences. When the elastic limit of prices versus benefit is reached the rich will sell and leave and go somewhere else. MV is slouching towards gomorrah insidiously. The culture and social ills of this island are already being noticed and people are giving it a second thought.

          5. I appreciate that you’re not one of those who argues for the absolutes of free market while ignoring reality. I don’t consider that view to be libertarian, rather of economics students who can’t think for themselves, who believe without questioning hypotheticals presented by college professors.

            I support there being a balance between economic classes that makes for a sustainable economy. Mea culpa for introducing the words “illegal immigrant” to the discussion. I have observed the über rich aren’t worried about the proximity of the middle class and those less economically benefited. They figure if a person can afford to live within 10 miles and in the same township, they’re not really poor.

            There’s a different group of people, those with the gleam of gentrification in their eyes, that would like the Vineyard to be a private neighborhood. Obviously, these people are going to have issues with who might be a neighbor … meaning live within 10 miles and in any township.

            My life experience is that business districts can be ideal places for affordable housing. When I left home with my parents’ undisguised blessing, my abode was a proper apartment above a goods store and restaurant. I didn’t require a house mate so was it truly affordable? I had co-workers who earned more but had to share rent, maybe I was a better shopper.

            As for parking, mentioned elsewhere as a concern in a shopping districts: mostly no. I parked overnight when at home (as do shoppers) and parked at where I worked or shopped during the day (as do other workers and shoppers). Available parking should not be an issue unless there is not enough for current renters.

          6. your comment is pretty much on point. I do take issue though with your point that “economics students who can’t think for themselves, who believe without questioning hypotheticals presented by college professors.” is valid.
            Why is it that students in “liberal” colleges are somehow brainwashed, but the kool aid drinking “heads full of mush” ( as Limbaugh refers to them) are somehow being properly educated by bigoted millionaires on conservative talk radio ?

          7. There is one requirement for a business: it must provide a service, something the customer cannot obtain on their own, by lacking the necessary skills, materials, or time.

            Fallacy #1 : a business must make a profit for the owner. Actually, it needn’t. Think non-profits. Some economics students leave college placing a higher priority on the business owner making a profit than providing a service.

            Fallacy #2 : a business has no obligation to help the community. I’m not talking about sponsoring theater, sports, etc that are really advertising; rather providing for the growth and sustainability of the economy.

            It is said better pay for the employees results in a better quality product. But a for-profit business is allowed to maximize profit for the owner by providing its service at the lowest possible cost; and some believe the business is obligated to. The problem with taking this to the extreme is employees will not have disposable income to buy services from other businesses, hurting other businesses and the economy. And these employees can no longer afford the additional education to “better themselves,” adding to the population that can’t get the quality jobs that were likely outsourced to India to save money for the company.

            If you hadn’t heard about this study, the effect of better pay in two retail giants:

  1. Your editorial staff should be lined up and summarily FIRED for suppressing free speech on the POTUS vacation story. What a bunch of lecherous cowards you people are. I mean cowards!!

  2. Abe Seiman – “Therefore, I feel that housing efforts must be started and can no longer wait for an improvement in the economy.” As long as Obama is in charge there will be no improvement in the economy.

  3. Honestly, all this fuss about affordable housing. Yes, the land is expensive, but if the towns or in some way some entity can provide a break in the land price, or there are lots available at very subsidized rates, then building is not necessarily expensive at all. There are options. One that is recent is the Ikea pop up house. Very economical to build, it costs almost nothing to heat and cool due to its EPS construction – etc. There are ways. They are just not discussed. These particular houses have Passive House Institute tolerances.

    1. That’s what we need—some entity to manipulate land prices so land is cheap and then hundreds of IKEA pop houses scattered all over. Brilliant. who would that entity be pray tell. The land belongs to someone. Lets take it away and sell it cheap. Private property rights or lack thereof is the single biggest reason third world countries don’t make it. Lets go Soviet–all sisters get earrings.

  4. I am pleased that my “Letter to the Editor’ brought the issue of affordable housing to
    the attention of so many people. The comments were interest and informative. The underlying question appears to be who’s Island is it? Native Americans? Only those who can afford to live there? Those who have chosen to make the Island their only home? It’s unto the majority of the the Island’s population to decide.