Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council on March 30, 2021.
I want to start by thanking you for all the hard work you are doing on so many critical issues (anti-racism, policing, housing) in addition to all the usual things on your packed agenda.
I am a weekly Habitat volunteer — right now we are building a house in Shutesbury and will soon be building two in Pelham. I have come to understand more completely the importance of home ownership for folks of limited income as well as the barriers to that goal in Amherst. I am writing to urge you to include home ownership as a high priority in your upcoming Comprehensive Housing Policy. It is my understanding that in its draft form home ownership is listed as a low priority. My husband and I came to Amherst in 1973 and were able to buy a small house for $30,000 (really!). As you know the median price of any home currently in Amherst is 10 times that figure. As all of the recent literature on inequity for people of color indicates, home ownership is the key to acquiring wealth in our country — we must do everything we can to make that American dream a reality in Amherst. Thanks for your consideration of this issue.
Judith Souweine is a retired psychologist and a 48-year resident of Amherst.