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Housing forum this Saturday

Advocates for affordability will confront the high cost of living here.

Islands, by geography, are exclusive, but continually escalating home prices have created a rift on Bainbridge that’s as effective as any natural boundary.

The island’s year-to-date median home price – the point at which half of homes cost more and half less – hit $551,000 in March, a number that’s out of reach of many home buyers.

With the population expected to grow by 7,000 people over the next 20 years, that number is likely to increase.

This Saturday, those concerned about the future of island housing can attempt to bridge the gap at a Community Housing Summit from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public, but those interested in attending are asked to call 842-1206 to make a reservation.

“We’re really excited about this,” said Kat Gjovik, director of the Community Housing Coalition. “We want to give people a chance to talk, consider and digest the ideas that are presented and that come up during the meeting.”

State Representative and housing advocate Mark Miloscia will speak at the event, as will Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

In addition to creating public dialogue, the meeting will introduce several planned solutions, including an affordable housing ordinance, a cottage housing ordinance and plans to create community land trusts, which offer affordable homeownership in high-priced areas to those with modest incomes.

Susan Felten, of Remax Unlimited, has seen first-hand the skyrocketing prices.

“I’ve noticed a lot more high-end sales recently,” said Felten, referring to houses that sold for more than $900,000. “At this rate, our kids won’t be able to move back to the island.”

Gjovik said it’s not only young people who are being priced off the island; single parents, the elderly and the disabled are also at risk.

“We’re going to have a good cross-section of people at the meeting,” she said, adding that around 70 people are expected to attend. “We really want people to get involved in any way they can.

“There’s not one single solution to the problem of affordable housing, so we have to be innovative. The sky’s the limit.”

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