In one week, I will reach the milestone of being a Salem resident for 10 years. I’ve been a homeowner in Ward 7 since 2016 and have worked in downtown Salem since 2014. I’d like to reflect on how small scale housing made that possible and express my support for Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) housing in Salem and encourage our City Council to pass the ordinance before them on Thursday, May 28.
I moved to Salem wanting to be closer to family and having fallen in love with the city when my brother attended Salem State. I got incredibly lucky to find a small, one-bedroom apartment near Salem Commons. The rent was affordable; it was clean and had everything I needed.
I lived there for six years, met my partner, had my first child. That one bedroom was the ticket to my future in Salem. I saved for a downpayment, found employment downtown after years of commuting to Boston, and enjoyed the natural beauty and vibrant environment found in Salem.
Today, Salem is in desperate need of these types of rentals. Many units have become owner-occupied condos and people who are starting out struggle to find small-scale rental housing in Salem. I’ve met many people who were forced to find rentals in Peabody, Beverly, Swampscott and Lynn because of a lack of available housing here. Federal and state affordable housing options designated by federal law for disabled, elderly and family households are not an available resource for this population.
ADUs can support the individuals in our communities who are at stages of life where small rentals make sense: the graduates, the professionals who work in our offices and businesses downtown, single individuals at any age.
I have no illusions that ADUs will solve the need for affordable rental units in Salem. But I know good units can make the difference in someone’s life as it has for me and my family now rooted in Salem, committed to live and work in this community. Such housing will only enhance the stable future of our community. Passing the ADU ordinance will not change our community much, but may allow someone like me to stay here and make Salem their home.