Letter to the Editor: Let’s Lead the Way in Affordable Housing

There is one thing missing in the reporting on the Nelson sale: There is no mention of the folks who call the Nelson apartments home. Are these folks considered necessary collateral damage? 

Gary Nelson has provided critically needed affordable housing through the six apartments that he rents, and he has given the renters advance notice so they can find alternative housing. These folks are millennials to 60-something, single, married. They are full- and part-time year-round employees of Northern Door businesses. They are part of our town. They matter. 

There are few affordable apartments in Door County, and they are almost nonexistent in Northern Door. For those that exist, there are interminable waiting times. As our town examines its options, concerns are raised. We will need financial help to accomplish the sale, lessening residents’ financial burden. Have there been discussions about the financial impact on these soon-to-be-displaced residents?

This is not to say the sale should not go through or that the town shouldn’t seek financial assistance. But it should be another wakeup call about the decreasing number of affordable-housing options. 

There may be those who say, “Only six apartments – what’s the big deal?” As villages and towns convert affordable housing to open spaces, hotels, vacation rentals and more, plans should always include provisions for affordable workforce housing. Habitat for Humanity, the Housing Partnership and others cannot solve this problem alone. Communities must be proactive and plan for housing growth to accommodate the very backbone of our economy, whether it’s essential workers, hospitality personnel or service employees. Let’s never forget to include their needs in community planning.

We have so much to be grateful for in Baileys Harbor, and we have an

opportunity to lead the way, not only in green spaces, but also in affordable housing.

Diana Wallace

Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin