RED LINING was perhaps the greatest crime ever perpetrated in our society.  It has had a lasting and still palpable effect on virtually all aspects of the way we live and how we are educated today.  It preserved segregation of color, wealth, and attitude throughout America.  I think it is time to take the concept of fair housing a step further.  The conversation about ‘low income’ housing needs a facelift.

Some years ago, there was a competition for the redesign of downtown Manhattan in the wake of 911.  New York blew it.  Second prize went to an amazing architect whose whole concept was based largely on mixed income housing.  The idea is not new and, to me, is quite simple.  The community that accommodates the widest range of income will be the most economically healthy.  Explaining this concept feels like splitting an atom but I will try.

I owned a business in one of the richest communities in the world.  It failed.  It failed because I couldn’t fine people who needed a job.  If you could afford to live there you didn’t need a job.  I was working 90 hours a week to fill the gap.  It was a fantastic business, and had it existed in a community that was attainable to all income levels it would have thrived.  It would have provided more than 40 well paid jobs and generated a substantial revenue for the town, county, and state.  The employees could have used the job as a stepping stone to greater wealth. The business that survives in that community gives nothing to the bottom line.  They import staff that have no vested interest in the community and spend their money elsewhere.

When people complain about service in a restaurant here in Seattle what they are really complaining about is a community that cannot support a viable workforce.  The same person who calls themselves ‘progressive’, sees all the right movies about social injustice, and ‘feels bad for the homeless’, complains about waiting too long to get their drink and gives the struggling actor-musician-student/waiter a bad tip.  Big cities are all now becoming the land of the rich with imported servants while their masters sing the refrain “You just can’t find good help these days.”

Fair housing needs a face lift.  The concept needs to be built into the structure of a community and should be enforced not with fines and fees, but with substantive deeds.  If the requirement for a developer is to provide low income housing they 1: should NOT have the option to pay it away and 2: should be required to create the housing on the very property they wish to develop.  A property for rich and poor alike.  The NIMBYs need to understand that mixed income communities are good for everyone’s pocket.

So there 10/23/2018

Check out this informative video from Matthew Gardener, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate.  Note the comments regarding affordable housing. (listen with head phones for sound quality)

A comment on the last Wednesday, So There


“Thanks! Good stuff. Embrace no parking. Two things buyers shouldn’t give much value to: a home built to circle the perfect TV location and parking.” Dustin Van Wyck

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