To the Editor:
“At this festive season of the year … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.” —Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”
As I write, I am thinking of an Island family who are neither poor nor destitute, but who are facing a crisis of impending homelessness during this festive season. The family I have in mind have been Island residents for 30 years. One is employed as a driver for the VTA, and the other as a candymaker at one of our local shops, and they have an adult special-needs child. The year-round home they have rented for some time has been sold, and they must vacate by the end of January, and so far, their search for year-round housing on the Island has been fruitless.
They are neither poor, nor destitute — in fact, they are nondescripts. Making too little income to qualify for a mortgage and making too much income to qualify for assistance through the Vineyard Housing Authority, they fit into no category whatsoever. They are loosely called “America’s working poor,” a difficult-to-define category, since income vs. cost of living is subject to so many regional variables. I applaud the various efforts to create low-income affordable housing here on the Island, but for this family it seems to be too little, too late.
Regrettably, this family has started looking for housing off-Island, but really don’t want to move off-Island since they’ve built a life here and have established employment here. My family and I haven’t been Island residents long, but we’ve been here long enough to learn that every time the Island loses a family for this reason, it loses a part of its community. So, in the spirit of “this festive season of the year,” I appeal to the Island community — if you have or know of a year-round residence for rent, having at least two bedrooms, would you kindly email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will put you in contact with the family in need. Thank you.
The Rev. Matthew B. Splittgerber
The Rev. Splittgerber is pastor at Vineyard Assembly of God. —Ed.