To the editor:
Wouldn’t you want your children starting out in the workforce to be able to live in a community like Lenox? Wouldn’t you want your grandchildren to be able to attend one of the best public schools in the country? Wouldn’t you want your aging parents to be able to live in an accessible apartment in the same town as them? Wouldn’t you want to give a chance to a single parent fighting to make a better life for their children? These are the kinds of people who make our community stronger.
Lenox is a community that really tries to live up to the best of small-town values. Ensuring affordable housing is one of those values. Lenox is full of incredible people, people who care for and respect their neighbors, people who honor their neighbors’ fundamental dignity. Honoring people’s dignity means making sure that people can live in safe, affordable housing. The current proposal to build new affordable housing at Sawmill Brook is the best chance we have to make a real impact and offer real opportunities to people who need them.
One reason often given to support ownership over rental housing is that owners grow deeper roots in a community. We all know that there are many different ways to grow roots in a community. The teachers in our schools, our firefighters and EMTs, and the actors and staff at Shakespeare & Company are all committed to the long-term health of this community—they should have the opportunity to live here, too. This affordable housing project will help make that possible.
Home ownership is part of the great American story. At times we have distorted this story into the belief that people who own their homes are somehow more virtuous than people who do not. In my experience as a clergyperson, this is simply not true. There is a deep need for affordable housing here in Lenox, and this project will help meet that need.
Lenox is an amazing community, full of people who care for their neighbors. It is a simple matter of justice that the people who work in this community, who do so much to build up this community and make it what it is, should be able to live here too.
The writer is rector of Trinity Epsicopal Church. The Sawmill Brook affordable housing project, being developed by the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, will be voted on at the May 2 Lenox Town Meeting.