To the editor: Critics in North Adams and throughout the Berkshires fantasize that onerous restrictions on short-term rentals will expand the supply of long-term, lower-income housing.

In fact, investment diverted from short-term rentals is more likely to flee the Berkshires altogether. A housing shortage is not the key problem; a bigger issue is that suppliers of capital don’t see enough reason to invest in fixing up the decayed housing already carpeting much of the area.

Solving the housing crisis in Berkshire towns requires general economic vibrancy, and in North Adams, that has to mean a tighter focus on supporting the stream of visitors to Mass MoCA. That means encouraging Airbnbs. Mass MOCA is North Adams' anchor tenant. There is no other.

(Disclosure: I own a part-time North Adams Airbnb, mainly used for quarantining my mother’s non-paying visitors.)

An economic concept ignored in the Airbnb debates is that any area wanting an inflow of goods from outsiders needs to sell to outsiders. If residents are going to drive vehicles made elsewhere, watch entertainment made elsewhere, etc., residents need to have something to sell to the outside world.

Back in the old days, a source of outside funds for South County was a lot of vacation home income, while North County had more manufacturing. The most picturesque South County towns continue to thrive. However, North County largely has lost manufacturing.

Williamstown has Williams College and The Clark. North Adams has the under-used Mass MoCA, but little more, beyond the few students left at MCLA and some very small start-ups.

Some additional basic truths: Buildings are not particularly mobile. People are more mobile. Financial capital is extremely mobile.

Consequences: If people and financial capital flee, there soon will be an overhang of decaying, blighted housing, as we see in North Adams.

North Adams has lost half its population relative to its heyday. Bits of investment come in drawn by Mass MoCA, natural beauty, etc., but the pandemic and negative local attitudes, again and again, prove enough to knock the town off its bearings.

Hostile regulations, such as those unwisely adopted by a few hundred people at a town meeting in Great Barrington ("Great Barrington says yes to Airbnb rules that cap rental days at 150," Eagle, June 7), will not promote social vibrancy in North Adams.

Let Airbnb be. Anyone with a better idea than supporting Mass MoCA and its visitors, for pulling in funds from outsiders, please speak up. The alternative is to watch the town continue its sad decline.

Barbara Alexander, North Adams