There are many discussions about these two words: perception and reality. They came to my mind while reading some reactions shared on social media, particularly about the proposal for 44 single-family “cottages” to be built in Dover. They are described as a cluster of “single family detached cottages” 384 square feet each, with kitchen/living room, bedroom and bath.
The developers are proposing these as addressing need for affordable housing locally.
Let’s talk about living in this modest space and the reaction by many members of the social media. Some yeah, some nay, and of course, as is the nature of the beast, many suggesting changes.
The first qualification popping up is of course, money. Here’s where our first thoughts of perception and reality come in. It is suggested that these homes will be rentals as opposed to purchased units.
The developers suggest $800 to $1,000 per month rent as something within the financial realm of 18- to 25-year-olds (even age 30) earning somewhere in the vicinity of $16-$20 an hour.
How much money are you making annually, and how much are you paying for rent on the Seacoast? How much space do you live in? What do you consider “affordable?”
Let’s try this one: Are you right now looking for rental space in the Tri-City area on the lower end of the monthly rent spectrum? In Dover, the average rent in September 2020 was $1,312 for a one bedroom apartment. How are you folks doing finding something in that range? We often see and hear the complaints of area residents bemoaning the growth of Dover as “gentrification.” That certainly has a substantial effect on what property owners can and do charge for rent, doesn’t it?
Regarding the size and viability of the cottage houses. Numerous social media posts refer to them as a “trailer park,” a description is often unfairly used with a negative connotation. They should be called manufactured homes.
There are areas in New England where they sell for close to $200,000. This could be one of the examples of perception and reality. Probably not within the realm of the $16-$20/month earner? Another local seer cutely refers to these proposed residences as a “trailer park of garden sheds.”
Other contributors to the discussion quite rightly referred to the curse of Dover –traffic, and what many more vehicles would add to the congestion, while others talk about the size for a family. I don’t think anyone is envisioning mom, dad two kids and Spot the dog residing in this space. These are obviously not meant for them.
If you have done any reading of Foster’s over the past couple of the years, you’ve learned of the challenges of many folks with housing. This cottages project could be one of the answers. In some cases it may be all that stands between couch surfing, living in an uncomfortable family situation or, here is a familiar word, homelessness.
Interesting as well, there is a “minimalist generation” out there and some local residents prefer to build their own home (yes home) and live in a lifestyle of function without the unnecessary. How do I know this? My son, in 2014, began and completed construction on his “tiny house,” which is quite similar size wise to what we have been talking about. He and his girlfriend have happily lived (yes lived) in the house on a farm for the past several years and are actually building another. “We have everything we need, this simplifies our lives,” they say. “Tiny living has simplified my life and increases my appreciation for the natural beauty of the world,” is another thought.
So: dictionary defines perception as “a way of regarding, understanding or interpreting something, a mental impression,” while reality is “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.”
Are you, like so many others, missing Apple Harvest Day? Well, there are a variety of ways to bring back the love. As you likely know, COVID-19 has caused October 2020 to be Apple Harvest Month with lots of things going on in the online world. Go to appleharvestday.com. In addition, there will be an Apple Harvest drive-in day on Saturday Oct. 17. There will be a kids show with a juggler and a friendly pirate between 10 and 11:45, from 3:30 to 4:30 an apple pie baking contest (yum) and 4:30 to 6:30 Acoustic Radio will be performing live! You’ll need tickets for this (no charge). For information, Go to Dovernh.org/apple-harvest-day or call the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce at (603) 742-2218. The event will take place at the Restoration Church location 80 Rutland St. in Dover. Have fun and don’t forget the election on Nov. 3. It is your duty and privilege.
Empathy, my friends, empathy.
Ron Cole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.