To the editor: I noticed the article headlined “The Covered Bridge Inn closes due to staff shortage" in the June 9 paper with some interest. There have been many similar headlines in the media regarding employers' difficulties finding sufficient help in the post-COVID recovery.
BRATTLEBORO — The Covered Bridge Inn closed after all the guests checked out of their rooms …
Co-owner Dustin Bulley acknowledges as much in the third and fourth paragraphs. But in paragraph 5 Bulley is said to believe the issue is especially difficult because “housing affordability is a big challenge.” Were the now vacant positions paying enough for employees to afford housing in southern Vermont? If that question occurred to the journalist, he kept the answer to himself.
Then in paragraph 5 the story turns to the possibility of converting the inn into housing units. Is this really a story about creating more affordable housing units? It goes on to mention an apparently withdrawn application with the Development Review Board that needed “a substantial amount of money.”
The governor’s proposal for American Rescue Act funds is mentioned along with some acknowledgement that it has turned out to be “difficult to achieve.” Is the state of Vermont likely to partner with the federal government to build more affordable housing units in Vermont? The article doesn’t make it sound likely.
If the "staff shortage” mentioned in the headline was caused by less than subsistence wages on offer, is that really news? If the article is really about unaffordable and unavailable housing in Vermont isn’t that (at least) partly because wages here are too low?
Brattleboro, June 9