The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 12, 2003


We own the affordable housing dilemma

Speaking as an eternal optimist, my hope is that as a town we can find a way to manage Affordable Housing Developments (a.k.a. 40B).

Although early signs are not as promising as an optimist like me would like to see . . . Let's review: We've had several starts (Conant Land) and restarts (Town Forest) indicating that maybe as a town, we are just not ready and/or able to move forward on affordable housing.

Attitudes and perceptions of affordable housing vary widely from: "I've got mine; you get your own," to "Not In My Backyard (NIMBY), to "How many undesirables are we going to let in?" to "Maybe we can provide some level of affordable housing." So much for consensus! Maybe, just maybe we need more faith in our own ability as a town to manage fears, deal in reality and work toward more positive outcomes? Is this possible or am I dreaming?

Thus, now, the Developers move in and low-and-behold, they make progress. It seems as a town we have worked at cross-purposes with lots of strife and contentionall actions that break down teamwork, good communications and positive forward progress.

Our history begs the question: Could we be working against each other so hard that we fail not once but twice? Oh well, sadly that's fact in CarlisleEvidence shows, the developers come to town and experience more successful results than we do on our own. The next question is: Given the town authority/leadership (real or perceived): Can we manage the affordable housing outcome and somehow help our own townspeople? (Always a nice thought, especially around the holidays.)

The research shows that there is a need for affordable housing among women and children experiencing temporary hardship and seniors who are looking to downsize. Let's acknowledge Carlisle has both groups of individuals. Traditionally, Carlisle women and children experiencing hardship and seniors looking to downsize simply leave town because they have no place affordable to go in the town. Think about it: just when seniors need to downsize and women and children need the warmth and familiarity of the Carlisle community they are forced to move out.

Can we empathize more? Fear less? Do more? Proactively lead and manage more effectively? Or do we take the easy way out and simply do more of the same, that is, let history repeat itself? We are this community, we each own the affordable housing dilemma and have an opportunity to do the right thing and at the same time move forward.

This article is the exclusive view of the author and does not reflect the views of Mosquito newspaper staff. Carlisle Comments is a column that welcomes well-written contributions from town residents on a wide range of topics.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito