Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Read the Comments

I know, I know. Reading the comments is not usually advisable. But in this case I am asking you to make an exception. I wrote about the rally for full-spectrum housing last week. I recommended the Sun coverage.

Now here are some comments.

  • Columbia Activist:
  • These are James Rouse's people speaking - Howard Hughes Corporation should listen.
  • MDisRed:
  • @Columbia Activist pathetic....more low income housing will bring more robberies and break-ins. That's why I left that hell hole.


    If you read all five comments, you'll see these points emerge.

    • Columbia has plenty of affordable housing already.
    • Why doesn't Western Howard County have affordable housing?
    • Affordable housing = subsidized housing = drug dealers.
    • It is necessary to have an influx of high-end housing to balance the market.
    • Affordable housing will turn Columbia into Downtown Baltimore.
    It's an interesting discussion. And it is notable amongst most comment threads in that the worst word used is "pathetic". But it contains a misconception about affordable housing that continues to plague conversations on this issue. Many people believe that when they hear the terms "affordable housing" or "full-spectrum housing" that they are hearing "Section 8 housing".

    They are not the same thing. And I'm sure there are plenty of conversations to be had about Section 8 housing. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.

    Now, as for me, I don't truly care whether the people at the rally were James Rouse's people or not. But I do care that, when people advocate for housing for teachers and first responders, that somehow translates to drug dealers and low-lifes. I mean, really. Are you telling me that your neighborhood will spin into a vortex of decline once more police, firefighters and teachers move in?

    Full spectrum means filling in the gaps. If we become a community with only the very rich and the very poor, then we will be broken. A community like that cannot sustain itself. That is what we should fear--a weak foundation that cannot support vibrant community life. This is not merely some touchy-feely liberal issue. It's hard economics and we need to pay attention.

    What would Columbia be like if we made more room for teachers, first responders, plumbers, contractors, nurses...

    A "hell-hole"? I think not.




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