To the editor:
I would like to respond to some of the points made by Benjamin Shallop in his July 13 letter (“To address housing, Salem City Council needs some economic diversity”). Before we sling mud at our honorable city councilors for owning rental property, perhaps we would be interested in looking at the several hefty political campaign contributions made by developers and real estate executives to some of our elected officials. The City Council consists of the people who were voted in by the people of Salem. And, like it or not, they represent the will of a great number of Salem’s residents.
Why should we pretend that affordable housing is paramount when only a few units in a large development are designated for affordable housing? And what are we giving up when we get a few units of affordable housing and have to override density guidelines? The loudest voices I hear regarding building more housing come from people who are builders, real estate people, and people whose jobs depend on construction. If we want to really help people, why don’t we look at building housing exclusively for working-class families with sliding-scale rents? How about building housing for the elderly?
Yes, Salem is part of Massachusetts. We are well above the Massachusetts guidelines for affordable housing and our density levels exceed most of our neighboring communities. I commend our councilors for scrutinizing zoning proposals and proposed developments that favor developers and people in the housing/real estate industry.