Housing helps us all
August 13, 2008
Editor’s note: This letter was originally addressed to Friday columnist Roger Marolt.
I look forward to reading your columns, since they are thoughtful and humorous. After reading the closure of last Friday’s column (“Milk: the new, old energy drink,” Aug. 8), I thought for a while about what you said about not being sure that employee housing has made Aspen a better place to be. First, I believe that any statement that I make about the value of having employees living in or near town as a result of housing also could be made about residents who live in free-market housing. We all make up the whole, and we are all needed. However, I think our town would be greatly diminished without our housing program.
Ask yourself some of the things that I asked myself when I thought about the people I know who live in employee housing. Have your children been taught by, and inspired by a brilliant teacher during their school years? Do you know some of the police officers who do more than I can mention here to keep our city safe and enhance our sense of community? Have you or your family been treated by health professionals, nurses, EMTs, and doctors? Have you needed and received any physical therapy after injuries or accidents? Do you know any of the members of the fraternal organizations such as the Elks? Have you attended any of the many events that groups like this have volunteered for or sponsored? Been to the library? Gotten a bank loan or mortgage? Helped with or benefited from the work that Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers has done on local trails? How about friends? Just plain friends to ski with, bike with, and hang out with. I’d bet some of your kids’ friends might live in employee housing, as well.
Okay, I’m sure you see where I’m headed with this. Any one of the above truly wonderful things about our town could describe both free market and employee housing living situations. It’s like my husband, Don, says: you can’t put a value on what you take for granted until it’s gone. Spend a few minutes thinking about the people who live in housing that our community has helped make possible. Then, think about crossing them off the list of community members as if they’d never been here. I think that you would find a real loss to the community and to yourself.
No, housing has not provided “a return to the great old days”, but I’d venture to guess that nothing is going to bring that about at this point. Still, I believe that housing has been a part of what still makes this town a place worth living in and raising your children in. I think that if you take the time to reflect on the benefits that the housing program has brought to Aspen, perhaps even especially the intangible ones like friendship and service, you’ll see the value that has been added to our community.
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Before it’s gone.
P.S.: You know where I live, right?