Friday, January 20, 2006

Housing Values

Values are the things you keep when they are most inconvienent.

In using this definition, affordable housing apparently isn't a value of mine. It should be as it should be for all of us but with a little soul searching, ah, nah. There have been proposals in this and nearby neighborhoods for some sort of building of affordable housing. Have I supported any of it? Um, no.
The inconvience of some affordable housing is the opportunity costs that we factor in our heads. Instead of some plot of land going to fulfill some societial need that we'd rather have tucked away in some other part of the city, we could get people like ourselves who could make the area more attractive to the businesses we like. Besides we already have one affordable housing complex in Truxton. Then there are the perceived (as this is predicting the future) and real costs of crime, trash, and noise that come with living with affordable housing, be it a group home, a string of section eight housing or an apartment building.
Don't get me wrong I do appriectiate the income diversity in the neighborhood. However looking at my own actions my efforts to protect and defend affordable housing around here is pitiful. So who am I kidding?
I do admire, even if I don't agree with, those who speak up for the working poor and the like in meetings and other venues where they face the wrath of their neighbors. It is one thing to rail against complete strangers regarding whatever unpopular (or popular) social program or project. It is a whole 'nother thing when you fight or go against people you know and who you like on a day to day basis.


At 1/20/2006 1:05 PM, Anonymous JumboChic said...

I love that you own up to it. But isn't it interesting that most of us who choose to live in the city, and especially those of us who live in Shaw...are drawn to and value the diversity (economic, race, age, etc.) as a component of city living? So it pains me to limit the experience to only those who can "afford" it. I feel like I can afford to buy my house today, much less keep up with maintenance and can only imagine the pressure on our neighbors who are older and don't really have anywhere to go. Kudos to the neighbors who support and endorse bringing in more affordable housing; especially if it's truly altruistic with nothing to gain.

At 1/20/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Mari said...

The diversity was 'A' draw not 'THE' draw for me. THE draw was the location in relation to possible and then commuting routes (metro and bus routes), purchase price, location in relation to downtown, and a balance of all that with my own comfort level. Location, price, location.
I have certain commuting values. I believe in public transportation and if having to wait 30 minutes sometimes for a missed or late bus in inclimate weather isn't an inconvienence then what is it? So where I live is more of a testiment to public transit than diversity. I will argue with family, friends and people I like regarding public transit, even on days where I have a hate/love/hate relationship with it.

At 1/20/2006 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend you agree with you, Mari. One thing that irks me about this whole debate is the euphemism "affordable housing". Maintaining affordable housing is quite necessary. But when the DC Council talks about it, they usually mean lowest/no income housing... not housing that is for those that are just barely priced out of the market. That distinction is very different than ensuring that the teachers in the schools, the police, the firemen, the Federal employees, the city employees, the small business owners, the young, the old, etc. can afford to buy a place in today’s housing market.

If they want to argue that the lowest earners should be able to own housing in the district, that's another debate and maybe it is a debate that should be had.

But the term "affordable housing" is intentionally used when our politicians often mean something else. Just wanted to through that thought out there.


At 1/20/2006 5:05 PM, Anonymous JumboChic said...

JG has a good point about affordable. Which leads me to clarify that I "can't" afford to buy my house today. I typed "can" ...maybe in a Freudian hope??

At 1/20/2006 7:42 PM, Blogger O-FACE said...

Interesting, selfish, but interesting

At 1/21/2006 3:18 PM, Anonymous Bloomingdalian said...

I've begun to wonder about the phrase "I value the diversity of living here."

Go to and search on your neighborhood by zip code. The demographics of the neighborhood are not diverse. Over 90 percent of the people in 20001 are of the same race.

There is little economic diversity as well.

Can someone illustrate what they mean by "diversity" when referring to Shaw/LeDroit/Bloomingdale/Eckington?

At 1/21/2006 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool, we're the exact opposite demographic from 20007.

(of course in 2006, the numbers are going to be different here... lots of changes in the last 6 years...)


At 1/23/2006 10:44 AM, Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

I think the previous poster makes a point.

"Affordable" housing doesn't mean condos targeted to the middle class. It doesn't mean formica countertops instead of granite and carpet instead of hardwood. The DC council says "affordable" housing as a euphemism, a political duckspeak for "no income" housing.

As a practical matter, why build housing for the homeless and welfare recipients in an area where property prices are skyrocketing. If you only have a limited pool of dollars with which to build housing units, why not buy land in ungentrifying neighborhoods so that you can build 2-3 times as many units for the same price?

At 1/23/2006 11:24 AM, Anonymous B-dalian said...

Yes, there have been lots of changes in the past 6 years, so the census numbers will be different.

However, the new census data will not reflect a truly diverse community. A diverse community offers a variety of goods and services to its citizens; more than cheap booze and fast food from bullet-resisant restaurants. A diverse community doesn't exist in an unspoken state of fear inspired by crack dealers. Fear exists now, today, in 2006.

There will still be a large racial majority in the neighborhood, and a large economic majority. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but this "diversity" thing that I keep reading about is another 10 years or more away.

Diversity can be acheived when the local politicians stop trying to maintain their demographic base at all costs (and thus ensuring votes). They need to shatter the status quo, embrace change, and leave the crack dealers twisting in the wind. Crack dealers and those they poison are currently, in fact, coddled by the community. Our politicians need to embrace people who don't look or sound like they do. I've begun to think that local politics (which includes economic planning) probably looks a lot like it did in the 1950's - one group of people trying to resist change whenever and wherever possible.

At 1/23/2006 11:25 AM, Blogger Mari said...

Because then you are creating pockets of concentrated poverty. Concentrated poverty bad. Bad.
But is there a formula of how de-concentrated the poverty is supposed to be compared to the space constrants of the general population?
But yeah, "affordable housing" usually means working and unemployed poor housing. The long waiting lists may attract the most housing needy, where people with some options (group houses, roommates, parents, etc) go with those other options.

At 1/23/2006 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think B-dalian makes a lot of good points. The DC politics, ANC especially, can be infuriating to watch sometimes. While I can understand the political purpose of trying to latch onto your base and rally them around (against) a "newcomer" threat, it unfortunately is going to hurt the "old timers" the most in the long run. The economic progress in areas around Shaw is going to march forward regardless of the DC Council or the ANC's best attempts to thwart it. At best they can expect to make it happen more slowly...

Regardless, their old "base" will erode and the politicians will be summarily voted out of office. I'm curious how long this will take. While the "newcomers" seem to be smaller in number, I would venture they will be very politically active. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one doesnt start seeing new candidates running against the long standing politico's on a platform of "buck the status quo and let's get the crack dealer's out ASAP". Who wouldn't vote for that?

One thing seems certain: pitting groups against one another in the name of politics does not win friends nor create community.

The Vegatate liquor license controversy, Shiloh abandoned buildings issue, church parking around Logan, and "affordable" housing arguments are what is going to define politics in this part of DC for the coming years. It will be interesting to see what the entrenched politicians do to meet in the middle for the sake of the community.


At 1/23/2006 2:59 PM, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

perhaps the term "interesting" serves our econonically deprived but gentrifying low density urban neighborhoods better than "diverse"

still. its just a word.
everyone that lives in Truxton, or Bloomingdale (my hood), eckington, mount vernon square, etc... knows that we see all kinds of stuff everyday. everyweek or at least every month we see things we've never seen before.

so while our section of the city may be 90-95% one race, there still a myriad of things going on. from wonderful to horrible, from shocking to comforting.

all the time.

And while we dont necessarily seek out and join in on other ways of living, it impacts us, and shapes our view of things everyday.


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