Housing Fight Concerns More than Affordability

children not welcome seniors only
Map: Google Maps. Title added in Canva.

I opened the local newspaper yesterday and read that my town is embroiled in a legal battle over affordable housing. (I’m going to quote heavily because the article will be behind a paywall soon.)

The nonprofit advocacy group alleges that the Township Council is trying to skirt its affordable housing obligations by claiming there isn’t enough vacant space for substantially more low-income homes or apartments, even though the Planning Board recently approved the development of two large age-restricted housing projects. Neither included affordable units.

The spokesman for the Fair Share Housing Center noted that Delran is “intent on locking out working families.”

But the mayor’s comment reveals that there’s more to the story.

“We felt those (age-restricted communities) would have a minimal impact on schools and be good for Delran,” Mayor Ken Paris said Thursday.

This is all about the impact on the schools–it’s not really about affordability at all.

My town doesn’t want to add any housing that might wind up housing children.

And they’re not ashamed to say so.

From what I’ve seen in the past, few towns are interested in building houses that are not age-restricted. No one wants to add children to the school population.

Council President Gary Catrambone said the township has been working for years to keep development at a minimum to help control property taxes and school overcrowding.

That’s their plan for keeping taxes down (a plan which, by the way, isn’t working out so well here): they’ll welcome children only to existing housing. People who want to buy brand-new houses will have to find some other town in which to live.

That plan says a lot about the local government’s priorities (and the priorities of the people who run local government and the people who voted for the mayor and town council.

Delran officials countered that their intent in approving age-restricted housing was to keep the township affordable by expanding its tax base without overburdening the school system with new children.

In a town that’s full of playgrounds and soccer fields (and building more of both all the time), no one seems too eager to welcome the children who would use those amenities. If this trend continues, it won’t be long before our playgrounds turn into dog parks.

Dogs–and seniors–are still welcome here, after all.

Children are the future; there doesn’t seem to be much future here.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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A Farewell to Street Urchins

farewell to street urchins

(Or: What am I going to do with all this root beer?)

We’ve got three 12-packs of root beer in the pantry. I buy it on sale so we’ll have it around when the Street Urchins come over.

But when we came back from vacation last week, we discovered that the neighborhood is down two Urchins. They’ve both moved to other zip codes, their households casualties of what happens when parents are not together.

I worry about the Street Urchins. Four out of five of our neighborhood Urchins don’t live with both of their parents. That’s Situation Normal for them, and it makes me sad. They bounce around from house to house, and sometimes weeks or months go by without them showing up at our front door, hungry for a game of Super Smash Brothers and thirsty for root beer.

They drive me crazy (they’re loud, and they leave a mess, and sometimes it just gets really rowdy in my family room) but I always let them in. Even the day after I discover that they’ve eaten all the Klondike bars.

They’ve spent their adolescence on their own, with no one hunting them down at dinnertime or wondering where they go when they disappear for the better part of a day and evening. And this September, two of them will be starting at new schools in new neighborhoods. In middle school, that’s hard.

This morning, Sarah Reinhard tweeted a prayer for today:

Sarah tweet

Yes, those exasperating Street Urchins are blessings (though they’re never invisible).

They’ll be missed.

And they’ll be held up in prayers. I figure that St. John Bosco is a great patron saint for Street Urchins, so I’m trusting them to his care.

In case they visit the neighborhood again (at least one of them still has a parent living here) I’ll make sure we’ve always got plenty of root beer.