Our View: Worth Doing Right

Editorial.

To paraphrase a former president, who knew housing could be so complicated?

Well, just about anyone who's tried to buy, build or otherwise secure housing in the current market. It's a cumbersome, difficult, frustrating process whether trying to buy a starter home or find a simple rental. And the situation gets even more complex when housing is being pursued by a municipality.

We don't have to get into the details of what is certainly the overriding crisis of today. Modest, affordable (both capital “A” and small “a”) housing is impossible to come by, not just on the Cape but throughout the region. But the problem is so acute here that it's beyond the marketplace's ability to solve. It requires intervention by towns in order to preserve any semblance of demographic and income diversity and not spiral into upscale ghost towns with thousands of homes empty for nine or 10 months of the year while essential workers — teachers, firefighters, food service staff and others — must commute long distances or even be bused in.

Chatham is about to launch into the complicated process of determining how best to satisfy this need using two recently acquired parcels of land. The first of three community engagement sessions to solicit public input on housing development on the properties will be held next Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m. at the annex. Residents will have a say in the type, style, configuration and density of housing to be built on the 3.5 acres of land off Meetinghouse Road purchased from the Diocese of Fall River and the 2.5-acre former Buckley property on Route 28 in West Chatham. Two more sessions will follow to refine the initial ideas.

Neither of these projects will solve the housing crisis, but it behooves residents to throw their two cents into the mix to ensure the outcomes serve the greatest need. There will certainly be calls to keep density low, but with the availability of municipal sewer and water, and both locations being close to village centers, there's no excuse not to maximize the number of units in a way that meets today's unprecedented demand. Attend these meetings, provide your input, and support these efforts. It's complicated and will take time, just like anything worth doing right.