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

#WorthRevisit: Booties and Diplomas

The story of a pregnant high-school senior who wasn’t allowed at her own graduation ceremony has been all over the news.

For many years I was a homebound tutor for several local school districts. I have plenty of experience with pregnant and postpartum high-school students.

I do enjoy the one-on-one work with a student who is too ill/injured/postpartum/pregnant/anxious/depressed to attend school. (Yes, I’ve had students in each of these categories–as well as a few discipline cases and a couple of malingerers.) There are students I’ve only taught for 2 weeks or so before they return to school. Most of them, I never hear about again.

Every once in a while I run into one of my students, who lived here in town and had a baby girl during her senior year of high school. I was paid to be her English tutor, but I also did a good bit of informal encouragement; this young mom was breastfeeding her daughter, keeping up with her classes, and handling quite a bit of the housework. She later married the father of her baby and they have another child as well; now she’s a stay-at-home mom, although she did work quite hard when her little girl was young, managing a Domino’s Pizza. Her resilience, determination and dedication served her and her family well, and it touches my heart that every so often, SHE recognizes ME. She is eager to tell me how things went for her family and I love to hear how well they are all doing.

I remember that student so well. I held her 10-day-old baby while this student took a test on Shakespeare. My student was mortified when the baby threw up all over my sweater; as I’d had several years of motherhood under my belt (and was wearing layers), I just shrugged off the sweater and went on with the test. She was from the same Catholic high school that all 3 of my kids attended (my youngest is a student there now).

There’s nothing magic about a faith-based high school that will make it immune from problems like drinking or drugs or bullying or teen pregnancy.

What is different about a faith-based high school is the way it should be supporting a teen in any of those situations. Support does not mean condoning their actions but it certainly means helping them accept the results of their actions with grace.

Audrey Assad observed on Twitter, “How many teen girls at that school will quietly get abortions because they watch how maddie’s being treated and talked about by the school?”

Moms who give birth and then go on to finish high school do not have it easy. Many times they have it even tougher at home than your average student, and the fact that they rise to the challenge of their circumstances is not grounds for punishment.

If we claim to be prolife, what do we do for high-school students like this one? Banning her from graduation is not the answer.

Not even close.
worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

#WorthRevisit: Exercise Your Freedom While You Still Have Some

I thought it would be good to revisit a prolife post today. Because just the other day, a grand jury indicted the prolife investigator behind the videos that broke this summer, exposing Planned Parenthood’s black-market baby-parts side business. The prosecutor in this case has a conflict of interest, but that doesn’t matter to those who perpetuate the lies behind the abortion industry.

That in the same week that prolife people commemorate the sad anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Prolife leaders worry that others will be scared about speaking up after David Daleiden’s indictment.

Worth revisiting today is my commentary on a homily I heard at my parish during the Fortnight for Freedom in 2013:

Our parish is blessed to have three deacons whose faith very obviously animates and guides them, who are not afraid to keep it real and who speak simply from their own experience. Each deacon, of course, has different stories, different strengths, different gifts that benefit our parish.

Deacon T is an attorney who is well-read, well-informed and well-spoken. He is not afraid to discuss difficult topics from the pulpit.

He made me think of Pope Francis when he began his homily by stating that he didn’t have all his notes because his computer printer had broken–and that he was sure Satan was behind that technical difficulty. (But guess what, Satan–Deacon T managed without those notes, because the force of grace will always prevail.)

Deacon T spoke very plainly about the leading cause of death in our country. It is not car accidents, cancer or heart attacks. It is abortion, which kills more people each year than the “top 2 causes of death” put together. He had the numbers to prove it. He spoke about how our tax dollars pay for this–and how it is absolutely against what we as Catholics believe. He spoke about how, if we are to follow Jesus as he called us to do in this Sunday’s Gospel, we need to take action to prevent government actions like the HHS mandate that rob us of the freedom to live as we believe. He spoke about the tragedy of millions upon millions of lives lost, and how we do not know how those lives would have touched others.

If you can’t go for big gestures (and many of us can’t), there are plenty of small ways you can advance the cause of life.

  • Pray. And then pray some more.
  • Vote–with the presidential election coming up this fall, carefully consider your chosen candidate’s prolife record. Can you, in good conscience, support someone who’s pro-abortion?
  • Check out Ways to Honor a Baby (whose life was ended by abortion) at 50 Million Names for some great ideas. Many of these are things kids can do! See more about 5o Million Names at my Tech Talk at CatholicMom!
  • Help your local pregnancy crisis center or Good Counsel Home. I try, each month, to purchase a box of diapers for the local pregnancy crisis center. (And I buy the big sizes, because many of the moms who use the resources at this center have older babies, and everyone donates newborn stuff. That’s a protip from my friend Arline, who volunteered at the pregnancy crisis center for decades.)
  • DAVIDSLABEL2016_1024x1024
    Image via Lifeboat Coffee.

    Buy some coffee. Seriously. I buy Lifeboat Coffee, which donates 10% of the proceeds from each purchase to the prolife charity of the customer’s choice–and there are plenty to choose from! Right now, they’re offering an “I Stand with David” blend; $30 a pound is a premium price, but 100% of the proceeds on this coffee goes to support David Daleiden’s legal defense and his colleagues.

What are some other things you and your family can do to speak up–and to help women and babies in danger of abortion?

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!