, Salem, MA


May 9, 2014

Letter: Ipswich override reduces access to housing

To the editor:

One of the main concerns with the Ipswich override is the impact on those least able to afford continued increases in costs above their growth in earnings. We have wide income diversity in Ipswich, unlike many of the single-income group suburbs of Boston. While there are many commuters that have high-paying jobs outside of Ipswich, there are many who live and work in Ipswich, including many with low to moderate incomes who cannot afford large increases in costs. We need to maintain the future affordability of our housing for our children and those who both work and live in Ipswich. I can throw out all the stats in the world, including those that show how the median household income is well below that of the majority of our neighboring towns, but numbers don’t express the personal nature of this issue.

The overall costs of taxes, utilities, food and other expenses add up for both homeowners no longer being able to afford their houses, as well as landlords driving up rents. The Salem News recently had an article with real-life stories of how people are being forced out of our communities as the increased costs are rising well above their wage growth. These are not made-up realities; these are real things happening in our community — in a county already deemed the “least affordable in the U.S.” in one national report a few years back.

Whether you are for or against all or part of the override, just be aware there is an impact beyond just the schools, that some homeowners in our town live paycheck to paycheck with little extra spending money (some have had to get food from food banks to fill that gap).

This isn’t the black-and-white argument of “I’m for kids, or “I’m not,” as some folks have been painting the override, but can just as well be painted as “I’m for driving poor people out of town” or “I’m for letting them stay” — if we want to go with negative polarizing politics. This is especially important as the largest growth in income has been going to those who make the most in our communities, while the wages of those of lower income have remained flat or have even decreased in real purchasing power. Rarely do contentious items such as the override have only one side of the story to them. Just because some of us live in a bubble of friends seemingly without those concerns does not mean that is the case for our entire community. Have some empathy for those around you — so that no matter your vote — at least be aware there is a serious case on both sides of the issue.

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