Short-term rentals is a distraction from true roots of the housing crisis

BRATTLEBORO — Thank you for exploring a corner of the housing issue in Vermont. The article acknowledges that the short-term rental market exacerbates what is a longstanding and deeper problem.

I'm assuming the article is referring to the lack of construction of housing for moderate-income people since the 2008-2009 recession. That this is the heart of housing problems nationally was addressed in national news sources in July, including The New York Times and NPR.

Focusing on short-term rentals is a distraction from the bigger issue at a time when we need to be facing the housing crisis in a clear-eyed and determined manner. We need targeted and ambitious proposals to address this problem.

As is mentioned in the piece, the housing crisis only stands to get worse as people move north to avoid certain effects of climate change. The combination of more demand with not enough quality, varied housing stock provides an environment for even-higher prices for what exists.

I was happy to attend a recent housing meeting related to a possible development on the Winston Prouty campus in Brattleboro. The proposal for that property is exactly the sort of thing to address the current and future needs of people who want to live and work here and who are not wealthy.

If we do not have workers for local businesses, we do not have a vibrant town. And one of the few things left to support our tourist-based economy is, well, tourists - and they want to stay in short-term rentals.

Fewer short-term rentals, fewer tourists, a small cohort of families, not enough workers to provide needed services, leads to a thoroughly hollowed-out community. Who would remain? The destitute and the wealthy and some elderly folks? Is that what we want?

Good on Winston-Prouty for doing what they can to help our community address this serious problem with community values at heart.

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