Monday, September 6, 2021

One of many unfolding stories that are becoming widespread

The small town where I live is one of the places that has long drawn people from all over the world because of its beauty and affordability and because it is a college town.  In the past year or so, affordable housing has become a thing of the past.  People who have lived here for most or all of their lives, who work hard and live from paycheck to paycheck are being given notice by property management companies that their rent is being raised by several hundred dollars.  We have a substantial homeless population.  People are selling their homes and moving to less desirable places in Washington and out of state because they can't afford the property tax here.

Although I have a tiny but beautiful low-end condominium that is paid for, I do pay monthly condo dues.  My sole income is my Social Security check of just over $1000.  Living simply, I have been able be oddly financially comfortable while aware of my financial vulnerability.  Because investors are buying condominiums in my complex, the owner demographics are changing from low-income and retired people, mostly women, to those who have substantial disposable income, mostly men.  Because this is a low-end condominium, like the one that collapsed in Florida, it has become clear that the condo dues need to be raised for numerous safety reasons.  The newer financially secure residents can afford steadily increasing condo dues.  Those of us who are already paying all that we can afford are suddenly aware that we may need to sell and move to a less desirable place because there is no way any of us could hope to afford to buy another condominium or to pay rent for the limited housing in our small town.

I bought my condo in 1989 for $50,000, which was almost more than I could afford at the time.  Today it is worth $300,000, more or less.  Watching the video and reading the comments, I see how widespread is the phenomenon shown in the video and am particularly struck by the comments about "company housing" and the affordable housing shortage:

"I owe my soul to the company store"- Sixteen Tons- Tennessee Ernie Ford. Funny how everything that's old is new again.

Bottom line the US has a major affordable housing shortage.

This makes me want to cry. We’ve truly failed the young people of this country

Oh. They only charge 1500 a month. Wow, that’s savage. We are literally going back to company towns. Even if they are paying 15/he and you work 40 hrs a week, that’s 60% of your gross pay. That’s evil

So, the average person can't afford to live in the cities or in the suburbs. GG America.


What I am thinking this morning is that I will stay in my condo as long as possible and then sell it and hope that I can live on the proceeds, paying rent and applying for Section 8 help for the rest of my life.


"Money doesn't talk, it swears."


No easy answers to any one of these current crises that have been brewing for a long long time.


Then I found this, not an answer but something that gives me a choice:

For many years, my students at Boston College have read Viktor Frankl’s sublime work Man’s Search for Meaning, a reflection on his experience at Auschwitz and a sketch of the psychotherapeutic technique he developed from that experience. I’ve wanted them to meet this remarkable man, and to learn something about how his experience of extremity forced him to confront the stark choice between despair and hope — and to choose hope. The quote above is a snapshot of how he responded: to retain what he describes as “the last of human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl was a sober realist: he details the horrors of Auschwitz and the moral corruption of those who worked there. His philosophy was not about wishing away problems or pretending they do not exist, but rather to acknowledge them in their grim reality. Yet in spite of this realism, or rather because of it, he describes how holding onto hope was literally a life-or-death choice. Those who lost hope, he said, developed a certain look in their eye, a fatalism that inevitably ended in death. They experienced an “existential vacuum” — his term for a complete loss of meaning, a loss of hope, a sense that nothing really mattered any more.

(am's note:  I was unable to adjust the spacing for the above excerpt)


Anonymous said...

Reading this made me think of this poem:

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

And, it made me listen to this song again:

Pixie said...

That was an excellent video and raised a lot of complicated questions that I have no answers for.

I know there are seniors looking at communal living. I wonder if I could do that when I'm older and even more set in my ways.

am said...

Robin -- Especially since Yeats wrote that in 1920, just after World War I ended. Thank you for the link to Joni Mitchell.

Pixie -- Reading what you wrote, it is occurring to me that many of us, financially secure or not, will have to look at having to leave places that we would prefer to live in peace for the rest of our lives and to accept other living arrangements. I had hoped to live in my small condo until I die, as many of my dear neighbors have done. I don't see myself as a good candidate for communal living (-:

And another option for me if I can no longer afford to live here is to seek a part-time work-at-home job. I don't like change but I'm going to hope for the best, hoping I can stay here for the rest of my life.

37paddington said...

The changing demographics is a problem for modest income folk everywhere, as the abyss between the haves and the have nots yawns wider. It's happening in NYC too, and I am willfulling taking things a day at a time and seeing how everything unfolds. I'm sorry for the worry this causes you, but glad you see options.

Joared said...

I hope you're able to remain in your condo as you planned. Housing is a problem for modest fixed income people everywhere any more it seems. We think we've planned as best we can in our younger days for our old age but there can be so many unpredictable factors that alter the situation as you describe. I think of younger generations also, trying to plan for the future and wonder what my children and grand children will encounter.

Bohemian said...

Yes, gentrification and the erosion of disposable income has created a shortage of affordable Housing everywhere. Here in Arizona we've gone from having a very affordable Economy and Real Estate, to having such an influx of out of State transplants who bailed on expensive States and have ruined our affordable Housing Market. They, along with greedy Investors, have made it so that Modest priced Homes are inflated beyond what their value actually is... and the Luxury Home Market circled the drain when they overbuilt Luxury Homes expecting the affluent to flock to undesirable areas they built them. In 2015 I had to sell our paid off Historic Home in order to Adopt my Grandchildren {long story}, I bought a Luxury McManse on The Cheap since the Luxury Home Market had tanked so best time to buy them is when there is blood in the Streets. Sold it 5 Years later to buy something less ridiculous, a Mini Farm but in the City near everything, we had to really Pony Up for this property tho' and if we hadn't bought it last February, we wouldn't even Hope to afford it now. The Window of Opportunity is brief for Ordinary folks to afford anything anymore. We are likely to see the Homeless situation spiral out of control like it has in places like Cali where the cost of living is just ridiculous.