On Affordable Housing

The following letter appeared in local newspapers and is shared with us here by the author George C. Tremblay. Mr. Tremblay is a member of the Charlestown Town Council and Town Council Liaison to the Planning Commission.

George C. Tremblay
George Tremblay

In a recent analysis of affordable housing in Rhode Island, Charlestown was ranked as “highly unaffordable” (Providence Journal, June 22).  I don’t doubt the veracity of the statistics; it’s the interpretation that’s tricky.

The analysis was based on the disparity between household income and the cost of home ownership.  About one-third of the homes in Charlestown are seasonal. Household income did not include the income of our seasonal residents, but housing costs did include the value of their beach-front properties.

House prices in Providence explicitly excluded housing on the affluent East Side.  Home ownership in Providence was rated as “affordable”.  This comparison of the affordability of home ownership in Charlestown and Providence is simply inane.  Indeed, the analysis invites every town to challenge such comparisons, state-wide.

What the data may have shown is that the average year-round resident of Charlestown cannot afford a second home on the beach.

George Tremblay