Affordable housing can’t wait

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