Affordable housing needs to recognize what tenants will need

PUTNEY — I get it. We need housing.

Windham County needs more housing. Vermont needs more housing. America needs housing! I get it! We all get it!

We especially need housing for people who have lower incomes.

We understand the need is very real. Just look at the houseless community in downtown Brattleboro. Oh, yes, the need is real. We know that, we see it, and we want to do something positive about it.

What needs to be understood is that solutions need to be just as real. Solutions need to benefit the people who will be using the housing. Seems obvious, but apparently it's not.

Tiny Putney already has five housing projects and now there is talk about having another low-income housing project go up by the Putney Food Co-op.

Imagine you are struggling. You don't have much money. You want a job. You want a nice safe home, and you want to get out of this poverty cycle.

Social services gives you an apartment in Putney. OK. Great. You have a roof over your head, a kitchen, and a bed to sleep in.

Now you want to get to work. Oopsie. No can do. The bus runs only a few times a day. You don't have a car because, of course, cars are incredibly expensive. How to get to work? How to get back home?

Now you also have to shop for food. Well. Hmm.

Oh, and now you have a doctor's appointment. Need to figure out transportation for that as well. Your kids need something for school. Not much you can do about that.

Because you live miles from town, you can forget about seeing friends, taking classes, or doing anything extra at all. Just getting your basic needs of job, food, and medical care is hard enough and maybe impossible. You have to let go of the idea of doing anything more.

Creating low-income housing should not just be about finding a piece of ground to put an apartment building on. Low-income housing has to be placed where people can get to work, doctors, and stores. It should be where people can have a social life and attend special events. Low-income housing has to be part of the solution. To knowingly have low-income housing perpetuate the poverty cycle is disgraceful.

I want much more housing built in the coming years. I want everyone to have a safe home. I want everyone who is struggling to be given a helping hand. I want people to be given a solid chance to live a productive, fulfilling life.

Let's open our minds to legitimate solutions for people's housing issues and then use all that amazing amount of money for that.

This piece was submitted to The Commons.

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