The Block Island Times

Publisher's Note: Housing shortage hits home

Sep 12, 2013

It’s no secret that we have a shortage of affordable housing on Block Island. It’s particularly acute for renters. This year, The Block Island Times is feeling the pain.

We are one of the few year-round businesses here and have seven full time employees.

Betty and I own a home, acquired years before we moved here fulltime, so we are all set. Two others have stable and adequate housing situations.

We provide housing for one employee, but it is certainly less than ideal. The good news is that it took her 10 years to finally not have to move for the summer.

This year we hired a new editor and before we had filled the job I put a hold on a year-round rental that I heard was available. I realized that our challenges went far beyond just finding a good employee. It wouldn’t matter if he or she had no place to live.

The lightning strike in June hit the Salt Pond Settlement and caused substantial water damage to the apartment occupied by our reporter.  She was displaced for nine weeks, during which she moved three times.

Now our production manager, who is also the owner of his own year-round computer business, has learned that the lease on the apartment he has occupied for three years will not be renewed. He has been looking for a new place for weeks and now has less than a month to secure a roof over his head. He is very concerned, and so are we.

We are the only community in the state to have met the 10 percent goal for affordable housing, thanks to the efforts of The Block Island Housing Board and many other individuals and organizations over the years. It is not enough.

The housing situation affects every business and diminishes the quality of life for scores of people who live in our community. We need people who have unused housing to consider making it available for year-round residents. We need to support our Housing Board in efforts to identify, expand and develop more rental housing.

This is a problem we need to fix.

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