Fayetteville: the "affordable housing" no one wants to talk about | Street Jazz

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fayetteville: the "affordable housing" no one wants to talk about

Posted By on Sun, Mar 2, 2008 at 10:09 AM

We have an open sore festering among us in Fayetteville, a situation that few ever talk about, or spend too much time thinking about. And, truth be told, a lot of folks don't even know about it, even after all these years. Yet to me - and to many others like me - it is far more important than the new urban god of Sustainability, or even the building of a new high school.

Not even of equal importance, but of greater importance, because it is a simple question of Human Rights, and of even what we might like to refer to as simple human decency.

We spend a lot of time talking about “affordable housing” is Fayetteville; we’ve been talking about the subject for over fifteen years, actually, without much actually being accomplished.

Soon, we’ll talk about it yet again.

But there is another form of housing in Fayetteville that is almost never addressed, and that is the world of rental properties. Paula Marinoni addressed the issue years ago when she ran for mayor, but I’m not sure how mnany people were listening.

Of course, there are several types of rental situations. The first is rather straight-forward, when you sign a lease for a house or apartment and pay monthly rent.

But that isn’t what I’m writing about today.

Several places in Fayetteville - trailer parks, mostly - are nightmarish hell holes that charge by the week. Some low-income families pay as much as $165 a week to live in a dingy trailer - all utilities paid.

That’s $165 a week.

I recently wrote a story on such trailer parks, discovering one in which open sewage pipes outside trailers were covered with excrement and toilet paper, and children were playing through the area - both before and after management (if you consider what they do to be management) covered the area with lime.

I have been inside some of these trailers - trailers that were mildew-ridden, and back doors held on by thin wires.

Just last week, in one such park. when a young couple with three children (one an infant child) found themselves behind in their rent, park management cut off their utilities, leaving them in the dark with no heat and no water.

The father called the police, and park turned his utilities back on.

Back in the 1990s there were rumors that one trailer park in town was putting plywood down the middle of trailers, and renting out both halves - one end had the toilet, the other had the kitchen.

We pride ourselves on being so very progressive in Fayetteville; we’ve gone green!

But as long as places like this are allowed to exist in our community, that claim to being progressive has a pretty hollow ring to it.

******

Quote of the Day

It is a blow to reform and the political hopes of the poor that the middle-class no longer understands that poverty exists. But, perhaps more important, the poor are losing their links with the great world . . .They are not seen and because of that they themselves cannot see. Their horizon has become more and more restricted; They see one another, and that means they see little reason to hope. - Michael Harrington, “The Other America”

rsdrake@nwark.com

 

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