Treating property owners like the enemy isn’t the answer

BRATTLEBORO — I write as someone who is not a landlord but as someone who has the honor of knowing some amazing local folks who are, in fact, landlords.

In reading about the different perspectives on the proposed charter change, I feel sad and concerned. I am concerned for our most vulnerable citizens, but I am also concerned that this measure will hurt more than it helps.

Let me start by saying that it is categorically unfair and inaccurate to group our local landlords with out-of-state millionaires who might not care about our local population. These two groups are not the same.

The landlords I know are involved in our community through volunteer work, public service, supporting local community fundraisers, rearing little humans, and being involved community members. And they care about our most vulnerable neighbors.

I think that the risk to landlords is not getting enough attention in these conversations. My husband and I have a restoration business (yes, in addition to barbecue), and we have done a lot of local work. I can’t fully explain the level of damage done to so many units without a trigger warning.

Folks should know that our local landlords are spending a lot of time and money just trying to keep units clean and safe, let alone trying to improve them. It’s nearly a losing battle, and now we are proposing to make bad situations more difficult and time consuming.

If we don’t support our local landlords, they might make the difficult choice to stop renting altogether — the risk may become too great. And then what happens? Either we have empty units while families live on the street, or they sell their properties to out-of-state millionaires who will want to charge rents that we can’t afford.

Don’t get me wrong — I want to see all of our community members in safe, secure housing. But treating a group of community-minded folks who happen to be making a decent living (I would assume) like the enemy isn’t the answer. Sometimes tenants need to go for the safety of others.

Let’s think a little harder on this one. Surely there is a better path forward. This one pits us against one another. We need less of that.

Vote no on the charter change.

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