The Shelter Group built its first Conestoga Hut and installed it on the grounds of the Community Church. Thanks to Larry Hughes and the team for construction and to Island Hardware for a lovely discount. This is a transitional home for folks seeking long-term shelter and a person has moved in today.

It is unclear what will happen with our houseless population as we move into summer and reopen fully. Several of our host sites will likely need to be vacated as the organizations return to full function. We have witnessed the positive impact of having a stable place to live and the support of clinical social workers have had on many of the clients. It would be great to carry that recovery forward. We continue to convene a diverse group of community members representing the sheriff’s department, the County, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations to work on long-term solutions for those in need of shelter. Covid has provided greater awareness of the need and inspired action.

It is also apparent that housing has become a much bigger issue throughout the community. The housing market has been wild during the pandemic and there are very few rentals available. Many businesses and organizations are concerned that this is having a detrimental effect on attracting potential employees. In this week’s community check-in call, Ady Walker, executive director of Children’s House, reported that they have four positions open and a waiting list of 20 families. The Funhouse, OPAL, and OICF are all hiring, as are most of the restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores in town, with Island Market hosting a Job Fair on April 17. With few applicants available, it is a concern as we anticipate a very busy summer season.

It is unclear how we can meet this growing need. With the cost of land, lumber, utilities, and permitting, it is impossible to build anything in the affordable category. We may need to get creative and consider new zoning ideas or figure out how to subsidize more buildings. One thing for sure, one way or another, we need to have places for the labor force to live.

The County has secured a mass vaccination with the National Guard (thank you, Brendan Cowan). Anyone 18 and older is eligible and we will have 1000 doses available on the 27th. Please help spread the word!

Stay well,