Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seeing Dollar Signs

Two headlines are on my mind this morning. The first:

Plan to build 150 Clarksville homes approved

The second:

Kittleman, advocates listen to concerns about proposed Jessup homeless center

It's no surprise that in this world there are the haves and the have-nots. But there are plenty of folks out there that believe Howard County is all about the haves. I was in a meeting the other night where someone said, "They want to work with us because when they see Howard County they see dollar signs."

Dollar signs go both ways. A high cost of living combined with a low minimum wage may not affect some, but cripples others. Why does HCPSM seek donations of instruments? For students whose families could never afford buying or renting an instrument. For schools whose PTA's can't raise additional funds for music programs. Why do the residents of Oakland Mills and the students at Stevens Forest Elementary School have an ongoing food drive? To make sure their own neighbors won't go hungry.

Now, I'm sure there were objections raised to the 150 high-end, single-family homes in Clarksville. I am going to guess traffic concerns, environmental concerns, and potential overcrowding of schools. Objections to a facility for the homeless: public safety, turning the area into a ghetto, concentration of homeless population in one place.

And yet the Clarksville folks and the (potentially) Jessup folks are all Howard County. It is foolish to ignore this. Some people think that the solution is as simple as redrawing boundaries to make poor people disappear. It's based on the notion that everyone gets excited about building for and marketing to rich people, so let's get more of them. And the poor? Well, if they can't afford to live here, they should just go somewhere else.

That is not the truth of what Howard County is. The sooner we wrap our heads around that, the better. A shout-out to all of the people who work with at-risk populations in Howard County every day. They know better than most that we are all Howard County.


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CDC Meeting tonight, 7 pm at the Jeffers Hill Neighborhood Center. The topic is Human Trafficking. (Another topic we don't really want to wrap our heads around in Howard County.)






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