My wife and I are retired teachers, and luckily we were able to live in the same school district in which we taught. In fact, at one point our kids attended the same school where my wife was teaching. It seems a given that teachers should be able to live where they teach. But around much of the country, and especially here on Orcas Island, many teachers who would otherwise love to teach here cannot afford to buy or rent a home. In recent years, new hires in our school district have had some kind of family connection here or were further along in their careers so that they had already built up some equity which would help them afford a home. Other teachers, especially young teachers, aren’t economically able to get into a home here. This severely limits the potential candidates for hiring in the school district, and arguably some of the most enthusiastic, competent teachers are not able to come here.
The proposal on the November ballot will set up a fund to help develop more affordable housing. It can be used to acquire, build, rehabilitate, maintain, and operate housing. The fee on a home sale is half a percent of the sale price, 99 percent of which is paid by the buyer. If this fee is rolled into the mortgage, on a house that sells for $350,000, the buyer would pay an extra $8 per month. Is it fair to expect a home buyer to contribute a small amount to affordable housing as part of the price for living here, becoming a participating member of our community? I think so. If you agree, please vote yes for the home fund.