By Kendra Rand
As we experience this season of giving thanks, I reflect on my gratitude for this island community, particularly Island Housing Trust. My family and I just marked the sixth anniversary of living in our home in Sabah Woods, an IHT neighborhood established in 2010 in partnership with the generous and visionary Emily Sabah Maron. This home has rooted us all this time now, grounding us in this island community in ways that we promise never to take for granted. My children attend Conners Emerson, my husband and I have easy access to our jobs on the island, and our network of friends is as precious to us as the home that shelters us. Our gratitude is immeasurable. But the work for more affordable housing is still urgent.
I was recently asked to tell my story of becoming an IHT homeowner. My story has a happy ending, I said. We moved here in late 2014 and by the fall of 2015, we had found our forever home, thanks to Island Housing Trust. I am happy to tell that story, and I’m still profoundly grateful, but my story isn’t the one that needs telling right now. The more important stories are of the families we’ve said goodbye to in the past six years.
“You have to be out by May,” has been a common refrain, sometimes with a long notice and sometimes quite by surprise. At least five times in the past six years, we have received panicked calls or emails from friends who suddenly found themselves with no place to live come the start of the island’s busy season. One family cobbled together a less-than-ideal rental arrangement on the island. The others have left. These are children who once attended school and Girl Scouts with my own, families who wanted to stay rooted to this island and continue being a part of this community. But they couldn’t. They simply couldn’t find a place to live.
I can only imagine how many other island families are anxious as they wait to see what the new year will bring. These are people who have much to give to the community beyond their employment on the island. Their presence benefits our community in immeasurable ways.
I also know mine is not the only family that has lost friends and connections. I’m sure many of us know of someone or some family our community has lost because they couldn’t find a place to live. The staff and board of directors at IHT are keenly aware of the urgent need to attract and house the workforce and families that make a thriving year-round economy and dynamic local community.
To IHT and everyone who shares this deep commitment to building and bettering our island community, I offer my sincerest thanks.
Kendra Rand is an instructor at the University of Maine and College of the Atlantic and a board member of Island Housing Trust.