Zealous about addressing the housing crisis


To the Editor:

I would like to respond to a letter in the May 27th issue (“Poor Martha”). The writer complained that a three-acre lot on the corner of Upper Lambert’s Cove Road was placed in the hands of the West Tisbury affordable housing committee. The assertion was that the committee was

spearheaded by “zealous relative newcomers to the Island.” In fact, the former chair of the committee has been here for 40 years, the former co-chair for the same amount of time, and the current chair has been a resident for almost 80 years. Others on the committee have

been residents for several decades — hardly “newcomers.”

I agree we are zealous, and this lot will only make a small dent in the affordable housing crisis. There is a tremendous (although not really “insatiable”) need for affordable housing on the Island. But this arises from a dramatic increase in the population in recent years. I’m

not sure which group the author would decrease — teachers, medical personnel, emergency workers? While the first group is only a concern for those with children, certainly we must also be worried if there were a shortage of those in the latter two categories. All of these people need housing on the Island — commuting by the ferry every day is, in my view, truly untenable.

In addition, there are elderly folks who may not be able to live alone, home caregivers being in short supply, and nursing home space almost nonexistent. This is also a group that is in need of affordable housing. Among the projects that the committee is planning is housing for these people.

If the members of the committee are zealous, it is because we care about our neighbors. I’m happy that the author of the letter has no need of teachers or, at this point, doctors and nurses, or perhaps not eldercare. But many Islanders do. Perhaps we view our cause to be “most noble,” but that would be because of those who are more concerned with the “sacrifice” of the “highways and byways” — asphalt and cement — than they are with their fellow citizens.

I’m not sure what “slash and dash” refers to, but the projects created by the committee have served to improve the community and, indeed, have been assets. I’m also not sure why those who get exercised over affordable housing aren’t as vocal in opposing the construction of “McMansions” with multiple structures, swimming pools, etc., and are only occupied a few months of the year. Aside from contributing some tax dollars, these buildings and their occupants do nothing for the Island. I suspect the reason for silence in this case is that living

next to the upper class is more desirable than living next to those who are less privileged.

Poor Martha — indeed. The Island will surely be poorer if we don’t address our housing crisis — and soon.

Ted Jochsberger
West Tisbury

Jochsberger is a member of the affordable housing committee.  –Ed.