To the editor:

Salem faces a housing crisis, with homes so expensive that many people are unable to live here. One step to build our stock of housing is the Municipal and Religious Overlay District proposal, which would allow two vacant church buildings plus the former senior center to be redeveloped as housing. For Salem to be a place where regular people can live, we need the overlay district proposal to pass.

Here’s my takeaway from the City Council’s discussions: All 11 of our city councilors claim to want affordable housing in Salem, yet only six walk the walk. Councilors Furey, Gerard, Madore, McCarthy, Peterson and Turiel are willing to work towards a compromise and ultimately vote yes. That’s short of the eight votes we need.

At the July 18 City Council meeting, the proposal will be discussed again. I urge you to look up who your councilor is and who the at-large councilors are -- they represent us all. Attend the meeting and see who tries to obstruct, who tries to find solutions, and how each councilor ultimately votes.

If you see your councilors working to pass the overlay district proposal, thank them. If they’re waffling, let them know you want them to pass this ordinance. Also, let them know you’ll be voting on Nov. 5, when many of the current councilors will be running for reelection.

If you’re despairing about federal politics, an antidote is get involved locally. The issue before us is affordable housing. Let’s make sure our City Council gets it right!

Ellen Simpson

Salem