Do we spend too much time talking about the Outer Cape’s shortage of reasonably priced housing? Some people we know think so, including friends in Truro who tell us that just because they don’t like the plans for housing at the Walsh property that doesn’t mean they’re against affordable housing. The long-delayed Cloverleaf development with its 43 units, they believe, will solve the problem nicely.
Meanwhile, planners say Truro needs to create 260 new units in the next decade or so.
We do try to write about other issues. Last week, for example, Elias Duncan reported on our worsening problems with mail delivery. Postal Service policy is one culprit, he found: giving priority to Amazon packages over letters, closing distribution centers, and the USPS’s low pay and worsening working conditions.
But housing turns out to be a big part of that story. “We are insanely short-staffed,” said a current mail carrier. Every post office on the Outer Cape is advertising for workers — but there are no workers. “I just couldn’t make the finances work,” said Wellfleet carrier Bonnie Tibbetts, who is quitting and moving to New Hampshire. “I hope the Outer Cape figures out housing so that hard working people in the service industry can live in or near the communities where they work.”
On the business front, the big news last month was the $24-million sale of the 102-room Provincetown Inn to the Linchris Hotel Corp. The good news about the sale was that the new owners say they are committed to keeping the place a hotel — rather than turning it into a rather expansive private residence, as one prospective buyer was rumored to have in mind.
But the third paragraph of Paul Benson’s story about the sale of the beloved hotel reported that Linchris had also bought the nearby Foxberry Inn for a little over $3 million. Its 12 guest rooms and a three-bedroom owner’s unit will be used to house Linchris employees.
“You can’t buy anything in Provincetown without being able to house employees,” said Bob Anderson, the hotel corporation’s president.
Another way to put what Anderson was saying is that you can’t operate any kind of business or nonprofit organization, large or small, on the Outer Cape without providing housing for workers. If you didn’t think to put cash to pay for employee housing in your business plan, you are in trouble. And that doesn’t bode well for this community’s small business culture.
It’s hard for us to look away from the housing calamity because it threatens our own business. We need more people to work at the Independent. We pay decent salaries compared to other small newspapers, but local journalism is not a high-pay profession, and the prospects for being able to make a life here, where house prices are unreachable and rentals are disappearing, are frankly depressing.
Like teachers, nurses, hotel clerks, and mail carriers, newspaper people help create community, and community helps create a newspaper, too. We can’t do it if this isn’t a place where we can live.