General News · 15th January 2021
As long as I have resided on Cortes Island housing has been an issue. Back in those days many folks had housing most of the year but would move out to allow the owners to enjoy their property during the summer months. This was at the time not deemed to be a very ideal situation but it now appears, in comparison, the good ole days.
This year we have 18 families residing on the property; most of these people are residing here because they cannot find a place to live. Some of these people have lived on Cortes Island for years built a life here , have friends and children here but now find themselves with no place to stay on a permanent basis . I am seeing daily ads for people who need places to live, many of these have lived here for decades and find themselves in this situations through no fault of their own . I have been in that situation myself and know how it affects your daily life, the added stress, the negative effect it has on your health, the results of the stress can cause so many unwanted or desired negative results not only for the individuals left homeless but societies as well.
This past winter when we came together as a community over the loss of a young man on this island , I searched empty homes on the Gorge waterway itself , and was shocked to find that there are more homes unoccupied then occupied . I have seen homes sit empty for years with no one visiting yet we have a housing shortage. The reasons for this crisis , and it is just that, not only here but most places is extensive. It’s not so easy to just move from here to the cities where rent and property is even more expensive then Cortes Island and work doesn’t pay well enough to afford those homes is lacking .
These people who don’t have a place to live are the same people that serve you in our stores, our restaurants that volunteer when something needs to be done. There the same people you call when you need firewood or manual labour done around your home, there the same people who will come and fix the broken things at your summer places, the trade’s people who can solve your ongoing challenges. These people , in some cases but not all , are young , the ones who have children in our school , the same children we love watching at the Lip Syncs , at music recitals or building their rafts at Cortes Days , these are the children who fight to save our forests and their futures as well as yours and mine. Others are older and find themselves in the same situation , without a home soon . In other words these people who can’t find a place to live are US.
Its not even fair to say they deserve a place to live because that makes it sound like housing is something that can be undeserved for some. We have affordable housing coming, something that’s about ten years late in my opinion but still welcome. Who will be left to fill it though once it’s built? Who will build it if no one is left to do the work here because they had no place to live? Who will stack your firewood or cut it for you, who will come and fix your leaking pipes or do your electrical, who will be working at your store when you want to grab some groceries? Who’s going to make your coffees for you when you come during the summer if their parents have no place to live , or serve you in a restaurant , or fix your boat when it breaks down , who is going to get your home ready for your return .
I truly believe that Cortes Island is one of the “special places” and I am grateful for finding it . I am grateful for the awesome people who call this place home and I look forward every year to see the people who spend their summers here. I also know I am better off than many that live here but that doesn’t mean that I can nor want to shove my head into the sand and pretend that we’re not approaching a situation that is not positive to say the least.
I am in my mid fifties and I feel a community is only as vibrant as its people. I spend my time most days working with “the next generation” the younger people of Cortes Island and I am grateful for the honor, it keeps me young maybe not in body but in mind, and I can say I learn something from them every day. Without these people the place that I work at would not be here in the way that it is now. I would bet that none of the business on this island would be as successful as they are without these same folks that can’t find a place to live today
This is the place we call home, our society is what we make it, I for one am not ready to live in a retirement island, I need the vigor of youth around me. I want to be part of a place where people are striving for a future and are successful, a place that we can all have a place to call home .
We all owe it to each other and to ourselves to help make this situation a past problem , i urge you to re consider your lack of desire to rent your vacant home or that extra cabin in your back yard , THE SAME PEOPLE YOU NEED FOR THEIR SERVICES THEY PROVIDE NOW NEED YOU !