2017-09-15 / Letters

Two towns in need of affordable housing

To the editor:

It was with great interest that I read the Sept. 8 article, “Town approves housing needs analysis.” Kennebunk also has related problems having to do with affordable housing, rental housing and so-called work force housing.

Thirty to 32 percent of the population of Kennebunk is 65 years of age or older and this number is steadily increasing. Among other facts, this means that this cohort will be aging in place rather than moving to less expensive housing, simply because there is a shortage of affordable housing and the majority of the elderly prefer this solution.

Kennebunk is one of the least affordable towns in York County, in terms of the relationship between median household income and median home price. These are figures from the Maine Housing Authority and HUD. Kennebunkport is in a similar position.

As our population ages, the elderly will need more services of all kinds, from nursing care, to hospice care, to ordinary services such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters.

The question will then be: Where will these workers live? It is unfair to expect them to live long distances from their work, since this will represent a burdensome extra cost.

Many architects and planners have recommended much higher density building construction in order to provide living space for workers. Obviously, some combination of changes to zoning regulations, federal and state subsidies and other creative solutions will need to be found in order to make this possible.

Additionally, solutions need to be found for more affordable housing of all kinds, if not simply to attract a more diverse population to the area. Otherwise, we are in danger of becoming a de facto gated community.

Kennebunk and Kennebunkport can adapt to these demographic pressures by utilizing modern ideas and creative thinking, while at the same time preserving the historic nature and style of our towns.

Bevan Davies
Kennebunk

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