Forum, Sept. 16: Affordable Housing Challenges Remain

Saturday, September 15, 2018
Affordable Housing Challenges Remain

In 2001, the shortage of housing units in the greater Upper Valley region was pegged at about 5,000. Today, the shortfall is around 6,000 units. These numbers include housing for all income levels, but the story is bleakest for minimum- and low-wage residents.

Has nothing been done to address the issue in the past 17 years?

Actually, there has been tremendous progress made by community leaders, housing advocates and businesses throughout that period. These local and statewide efforts remain robust today.

Since 1990, Twin Pines Housing has orchestrated many groundbreakings. Vital Communities and its corporate council — a group of local business and nonprofit leaders — are adding their strength to advocacy efforts. At the state level, the Community Development Finance Authority has a 35-year track record of providing creative financing, while New Hampshire Housing effectively administers federal housing dollars.

Yet, the shortage of safe and affordable places to live in the Upper Valley is a problem that requires all of us to chip in and speak up.

As noted in the Valley News editorial “Window of Opportunity: The Battle for Affordable Housing” (Aug. 8), the National Low Income Housing Coalition highlighted a national problem. For our region, the coalition’s report finds that a minimum-wage worker in Vermont or New Hampshire would have to work two to three jobs to afford a basic apartment with two bedrooms.

Addressing the impacts of high housing demand requires a substantial increase in supply and creative reuse of existing buildings while avoiding loss of current low- and moderate-income housing.

We encourage the editors of the Valley News to maintain prominent coverage of this ongoing challenge. For readers, we urge you to discuss and support housing solutions and equitable zoning where you live. And for developers, please balance your projects with lower-income options. The greater good requires everyone share the load.

It’s a “yes, in my backyard” approach to safe, affordable homes for friends, co-workers and neighbors that are close to work, schools and shopping.

Success will grow from our collective effort.

William Craig, Board President

Edward W. Fox, General Manager

Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society

Seeing Red Over Traffic Light Idea

Another very bad idea for West Wheelock Street in Hanover — this time a traffic light (“Dartmouth Proposes New Traffic Light,” Aug. 31). Twenty years ago, it was the New Hampshire Department of Transportation proposing a truck climbing lane up to the corner, more or less an extension of Exit 13 off Interstate 91.

Two years ago, a rezoning idea would likely have replaced car-free students with car-using apartment dwellers, exactly what is not wanted there. Voter common sense ended that, but now comes Dartmouth College and its (desirable) parking garage. Expect to hear a lot about “safety,” the last refuge of bureaucrats, self-justification from paid consultants and mumbling from the usual yes-men.

The alternative — for the two hours a day, five days a week it is needed — is a left-turn lane, similar to the turn into Tuck Drive off the Ledyard Bridge. The sightline there is quite poor; nevertheless, it is set to be encouraged as an access to the campus. Where is the space going to come from for a left-turn lane at West Street and West Wheelock Street up to the garage? From the wide shoulder that did not become a climbing lane.

But no traffic light. No, no, no.

Dick Mackay


Banking on Value of Personal Interactions

In his article on the closing of the Citizens Bank’s branch in Lebanon (“Citizens Bank to Close Lebanon Branch, Others in Twin States,” Sept. 9), John Lippman wrote, “Like banks everywhere, Citizens Bank is grappling with its customers’ shift to mobile and online banking that is resulting in a sharp decline with in-person lobby transactions, lessening the need for traditional teller services.”

“Grappling”? The branch closings are the customers’ fault? Let us place the cart behind the horse.

Banks are interested, as all businesses are, in making a profit. Hence, online banking was thought to cut costs by eliminating jobs. In fact, customers were given incentives, negative incentives, to do all the work, like being charged for paper statements.

Meanwhile, as I waited for a teller to prepare the paperwork for a CD for me at the very branch that Citizens Bank is going to close (and the very branch that prompted me to open my account there in the first place when I moved to Lebanon, by the way), I observed human interactions that could not take place online, nor over the phone.

Maybe banks and other businesses will realize that customers value personal interactions. If businesses want our money, sometimes they have to give us something more than just the cold product.

And when problems arise? Maybe we don’t like waiting half an hour for an anonymous human to talk to us on the other end of the phone line.

Annabelle Cone


Help Plan the Future of Cornish Library

Libraries in the Upper Valley have been in the news recently as each tries to provide the services, resources and facilities required by patrons in this rapidly changing society. The George H. Stowell Free Library in Cornish Flat is no exception.

The library trustees are currently taking stock of our 19th century building, modest collection and services, and preparing to move forward to better meet the needs of all our patrons.

To do so effectively, we need your help. All Cornish residents are invited to a community forum on Sept. 25, from 6-8 p.m., at the Cornish Town Offices.

Please join us for what we hope will be a lively and enlightening evening that will help us chart the future course of the Cornish town library.

Kate Freeland


The writer is a trustee of the George H. Stowell Free Library.