LETTER — Greater care needed with Habitat story

Published 11:34 am Thursday, March 25, 2021

To the Editor:

I read with concern your story about the unfinished Habitat house. To me it sounded more like an individual grievance than an objective news story.

I did appreciate Jayne Johnson’s explanation about Habitat’s rigorous application process, as I’ve always admired the charity for that very reason — applicants get to partner in the builds in many ways. As I understand it, our local Habitat has helped more than 40 needy families get into affordable housing, a stellar record that helps put this story in context.

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Obviously Habitat, or any such organization, cannot publicly defend itself in a case like this, because it is legally bound by confidentiality requirements. It’s simply unfair to air the grievances of an individual when you cannot know Habitat’s side of the story. You should understand the difficult position you’ve placed them in.

I’m not connected with Habitat in any way except just this year I agreed to serve on a community advisory committee. Since then, I’ve learned more about its amazing history and the many ways affordable housing helps not just individual homeowners but the entire community.

The Herald has done a wonderful job in the past covering the good things Habitat has done for this community. Thank you for that. But that really can’t compensate for the harm that one unfair story can bring. With dozens of donors and volunteers required for each build, your story could begin siphoning off much-needed resources, and our entire community would suffer as a result. That is the power of the press, a power to be exercised with great judiciousness.

I can appreciate your efforts at good, investigative journalism. But please take greater care to make it fair to all concerned.

Jon Marken