Gay Graham

To the Editor:

My husband and I just returned from an extensive road trip carrying us into nine states and many communities along the way.  As we are news junkies, we watched local TV news stations every evening to get some sort of a feel for what is happening.

Unfortunately, all but one broadcast put forth what is termed “happy talk”: car chases that ended with the perp. being collared by the local sheriff, weather and sports.  One station, however, had a story lasting about ten seconds.  It concerned the affordable housing dilemma facing the area.  What struck me was what one town official said, “We’re looking into it.”  Did what we hear mean only ONE town had an issue or that these news stations focused on fluff pieces?

Here in our islands, we are decidedly not just “…looking into it” but are actually putting forth a measure that will be a tremendous boost to our issue of affordable housing: REET.  This measure is not an end in itself, but a strong and positive step toward making our communities diverse, viable and healthy.

I urge voters to approve the REET.


By now every voter should know that there is a November ballot measure seeking to, at least, partially address the acute lack of affordable housing which is a huge issue in our islands.  What many voters do not know, however, is that there are some of our neighbors who highly resent folks who strive to live in a home they can afford, and work toward realizing the “American Dream.”

Never mind the fact that many of these islanders who live in homes from the Community Home Trust or Homes for Islanders are those who are our teachers, EMTs, business owners, wait staff, mechanics, hair dressers…the people who help to make these islands a community.

Believe it or not, those who grumble resent the fact that someone is finally able to purchase a “new” car to replace the one that barely starts to enable to get them to the one, two or three jobs they hold. “New”—new to the buyer, but clearly not a sparkling new one just off the show room floor.  Clothes or toys for their kids?  Unless these are purchased at one of our thrift shops or at a garage sale, what are “those people” doing?  Doesn’t having WIC or welfare or the Food Bank suffice? What do you mean a home of their own? What’s so wrong with renting?  You have rats in your house?  If your landlord doesn’t buy traps or seal your home, what’s wrong with you for not buying your own traps?  You live in a trailer that doesn’t leak but doesn’t have a toilet?  What’s wrong with the “honey pot” just outside your door?  A family “vacation?”  This has to be out of the question.

Unpleasant aren’t these? But lest you think I exaggerate, I have heard these questions posed or had them shared with me.  I have heard those relate the negative remarks they have overheard or been told directly to them about how they should just stay where they are.  That their “…financial status is under scrutiny.” 

These are clearly not pretty pictures, but this undeniable current must be acknowledged.  Rather than wring our hands, we need to tackle the issue of affordable housing, and move ahead.  One of the ways is by voting for the Housing Initiative-Proposition #1-the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET).  Please join me in supporting this REET. 

Gay Graham
68 Laughing Meadow Lane
Friday Harbor