To the editor:
Housing costs in Salem are increasing fast, and the people most affected are our working-class neighbors. Renters, people working second and third shifts, people with mobility issues — those of us who don’t have the privilege of attending public meetings are the ones who are most at risk of being priced out of Salem.
Unfortunately, we have some elected officials who are so out of touch with their community that they’re willing to let empty historic buildings rot instead of allowing them to be converted into housing for the people who need it most.
We can’t pretend we care about affordable housing and just pat ourselves on the back because we’re technically not the worst in Massachusetts. A three-year waitlist for public housing is horrific, but it’s Salem’s reality. Solving our housing crisis isn’t like outrunning a bear, where all you need is just to run a little faster than the person behind you in order to survive. It takes compromise, small steps, and teamwork.
Feeling comfortable with our current affordable housing options means that we’re accepting mediocrity, and that is shameful. We count on our elected officials to make smart, kind choices so we can thrive in our city, not just survive. If Salem is truly a leader within our state on this issue, then our councilors need to actually earn their $15,000 taxpayer-funded salary by acting with urgency on behalf of their voters and checking their pride at the door. We can, and must, do better.