To the editor:

In the recent defeat of an inclusionary zoning ordinance by the Salem City Council, many spoke in praise of the decision, citing overdevelopment. It seems the same is done in nearly every community, usually asserting that “low-income” housing is bad for neighborhoods and the population is already too dense.

Two hundred and fifty words is not nearly enough to articulate how horrific it is that so many in our communities demonize the less fortunate to such an extent, so I’m going to let you in on a secret: Preventing the mandatory inclusion of affordable units in new development has no effect on actual development whatsoever. If someone owns a property, as long as they build within that community’s bylaws there is legally nothing anyone can do to stop them. What’s going to happen — and continue happening — is the further construction of luxury condos and apartments that very few of us can actually afford, and if we keep preventing the inclusion of affordable housing that’s all there will be. This pandemic has been a stark reminder that any one of us could have the rug pulled out from under our feet at any moment and find ourselves facing massive loss of income, and I implore every member of our communities to think about yourselves, your families, and your neighbors; these New England winters get awfully cold.

Charles Z. Smith



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