We all pay a sales tax when we buy a car or boat and the annual excise that provides the cities and town with funds to build and maintain the infrastructure needed. So, too, should the real estate transfer fee provide funds for the housing community.
The shortage of affordable housing, both rental and home ownership, is in part linked to the rise in the housing market. A community thrives when there are people from all walks and income levels. A community, by its nature, provides mutual support to all its members. We look out for each other and come to the aid of our neighbors. Sometimes that aid is financial, at others times it is more neighborly support.
In an ideal world, the market would offer housing options at all price ranges and levels but that doesn’t seem to be the case in our current housing climate. To ensure our community can continue to be the kind of place that brought us here it is necessary to offer support by helping to create affordable housing options. We need housing at all levels to maintain quality of life in our community, we must include financial support to help balance the housing market, and that support should be funded in part by the housing market itself.
They say a rising tide lifts all boats. This community is doing a lot of things right. Our cultural institutions, number of restaurants, outdoor recreation, and the vitality of out town are ell things that make people want to live here and we have much to be proud of. But those things have attracted so many are in danger. The increase in real estate prices at the top has led to an across the board price increase. That rising tide has left some behind without a boat for safety.
There is a direct correlation between the rise in real estate and the lack of affordable housing. Without affordable housing we will lose teachers, service workers, town employees. It is fair that the real estate community use part of their resources to help keep this vibrant community. That’s why a real estate transfer fee makes sense. It is because there is a linkage between the escalating cost and the need for affordable housing.
Many people have talked about how teachers or service workers can’t find housing. What brought it home to me was when we had an information session for the new Habitat development and a young man stood up still in his Great Barrington Fire Department polo and talked about how if we don’t figure out how to provide housing then in a few years Great Barrington will not have a call fire department because there won’t be people who can afford to live here.