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Letter: Wants and needs

When I was a student at UMass (Boston), a professor had a profound effect when she taught us to distinguish between Wants and Needs. In a planning process for public housing it was important to consider the needs first.

If people need sources of employment or readily available health care then placement of public housing needs to be near those sources. Also within that framework of needs is the need for public transportation.

We have public policies now that place people in assisted housing without regard to employment or health care AND we have created some public transportation that bears no relationship to the real world of employment. I watch the FRTA buses in my town and wonder whose needs are possibly met by its schedule? Our public problems and public solutions rarely match. While the state’s requirement of a minimum of 10 percent low-income housing may make us feel good about ourselves, it does very little to help people leave poverty if there are no sources of employment for example.

There is a concept of economy of scale that if applied makes public transportation from the outer reaches of Franklin County look questionable. Wants seem to trump needs on this issue.

MARGUERITE MORRIS WILLIS

Charlemont

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