Letter to the editor: Public lands could be used to help housing crisis
The local housing crisis is complex enough that it will take more than one relief method to fix it. One option that Addison County has but has yet to explore is the use of public land to host non-profit housing projects. In other parts of the country, cities and towns are contributing solutions through the use of local money and townland, some with success, some without. While a lot of the townland in Middlebury lies in a flood zone or has infrastructure on it, other towns have parcels of land entirely vacant that could be used by nonprofit housing organizations with limited resources or development capacity to site housing. While these projects won’t increase the property tax base, they will increase the labor pool and provide more disposable cash to circulate in the local economy while lowering transportation costs and impacts if people who can live where they work.
Every person in a community benefits from housing. Our current methods of producing affordable housing are costly and take years to complete. We will never be able to build the number of units needed by Vermonters using this method alone. It is possible to build safe, beautiful, and truly affordable housing in months, not years. But it takes collaboration between local agencies, businesses, and citizens and a willingness to suspend disbelief and consider alternatives.
I urge the Addison County leadership to be ruthless in its pursuit of alternatives to for-profit- housing. I also urge local non-profit organizations with land resources that are not being used to consider how they can contribute a solution to the housing crisis.
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