(Editor’s note: The quote mentioned below [“If this becomes a problem,” Larsen said, “let me know immediately and I will see what I can do.”] appeared in the article “Affordable housing,the dilemma continues” on Aug. 24 and was his response to the USDA affordable home loan program issue not the housing problem.)
The issue of affordable housing has finally made the front page of the newspaper, but in the headline only.
An article titled “Affordable Housing, the Dilemma Continues” was published last Wednesday, but instead of talking about the dilemma, the article touts the island’s only answer—the Home Trust. In the article, Rep. Rick Larsen was quoted as saying, “If this becomes a problem, let me know immediately and I will see what I can do.”
Well, Rick, I’m letting you know. Affordable housing is a problem. It is a problem that cannot be solved by the Home Trust alone. When two educated, hard-working, employed locals can not afford housing (even through the Home Trust) – this is a problem.
This is a problem that is rooted first and foremost in wages. The article mentioned that San Juan County is the least affordable county in Washington. If this is true, then why do we not have the highest minimum wage? Why don’t local jobs pay in proportion to the local economy? Does it seem right to you, Rick, that a local can work his entire career serving his community, supporting local businesses, and never, not once, be able to afford a local house?
This is where the problem begins.
Whether we like it or not, the islands have been discovered. We are a playground for affluent tourists. Fine and good—they support our local economy. But when the tourists leave, who is left picking up their trash?
San Juan Island