Great Barrington faces rental crisis

For the publisher:

This Saturday I sat on my living room floor reading to my 2 year old son as a parade of strangers trampled my attic to plan the renovation of the apartment I had rented on East Street for nine. years. A woman apologized somewhat, the real estate agent made a little awkward chat, and two other people barely seemed interested in making eye contact as they took action and brainstormed renovation strategies. I have no idea whether or not they will buy the house or if my family of three will be evicted before winter is over.

This is an overview of the affordable housing and rental crisis in our city. I am a freelance teacher with a masters degree and my husband is a local freelance worker who grew up in Stockbridge. We cannot afford to continue living in Great Barrington and we will be lucky if we can find an affordable home to rent or buy in a nearby town.

There are many more like me, an undercurrent of low and middle income people who are neither heard nor supported. We are teachers, farmers, veterans, therapists, artists and parents. We are often silent because we are working to make ends meet and are overwhelmed by a system that has left us with nowhere to go.

Perhaps the bloody stories of wealthy landlords rocked the housing committee into believing that regulating their passive income would be detrimental to their lives. The fear of eviction is a different type of stress than whether or not you can take extra vacation.

This is where the city comes in. My rental on “The other Hill ”is a prime example of a two-unit house that the Housing Trust could purchase, renovate and subsidize to maintain two affordable downtown apartments. Whatever the fate of this particular house, I implore the citizens of this town to adopt the by-law proposed at the municipal assembly in May.

I understand there is some income to be made from short term rentals, but let’s face it: the Berkshires aren’t going to slow their popularity anytime soon. Leave the hotels and guesthouses to tourists and consider this reality: there are working class people in your town who deserve affordable housing. We are your friends and neighbors. Return our rentals to us.

Kristin grippo
The rue des pins
Great Barrington

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