Pleas for affordable housing

Fri, 01/14/2022 - 7:00am

An open letter to the New Shoreham Town Council and the Block Island Community. I don’t hang pictures on my wall - because they are temporary and quite frankly I can’t. These walls are not home. In fact - Mason and I haven’t had a place to call home since he was two. He’s now 13. In 11 years we have moved no short of 22 times. Twenty-two times - read that again. Twenty-two times of boxing up clothes, toys, etc. Twenty-two times of not being able to call any walls home. Twenty-two times of hefting boxes up and down stairs.
Over the past few years I’ve learned not to move much. Most of our things are packed away in my parents’ basement. I move my things in laundry baskets - taking only what I would need for a week, going back to my parents if I need anything more. That’s not sustainable – for anyone. It’s emotionally draining and it’s just plain hard.
I’ve called Block Island home for 38 years. I grew up here - went to K-12 here - did a short six months in college - and came back here. I’ve been raising my amazing son here because I believe in this community. I opened my own year-round business here to serve this incredible community. And now I’m calling on this incredible community to come together and help solve one of our island’s biggest issues - housing. And not housing for workers, which believe me is important because I rely on workers as well. But housing for the people that make this island run 365 days a year. We have a school system that has a hard time finding housing for teachers, town employees who can’t find housing, small business owners like myself that do the shuffle and some people who are seriously contemplating moving off-island because all of this is too much.
Do we as a community want to see our fellow islanders have to move off this island just because they cannot find housing? I sure don’t. But that is the direction I believe that we are going – and if we don’t start the conversation and start making a plan now the future of this year-round community will be bleak.

I don’t know what exactly the solution is – more affordable rental units? More affordable houses? Cutting the red tape and finding incentives for homeowners to build year-round rentals? I credit Chris Warfel for bringing this conversation to the forefront and I urge each and every one of you to participate in the meetings and discussions and forums that will come. I’d like to thank the Town Council for hearing our plea – and hoping we can come together and find a solution.

Alicia Miro
West Side Road and Ocean Avenue
Block Island