Monday, August 29, 2016

Poverty Part 1: Government v. Everyday Home-owners

*Good news, found some time to blog today*

This is a real situation that occurred in a north part of Denver.

Back in the early 1900s there was a lot of metal/construction/steel work being done in that part of Colorado. The people who then built homes near to those work sites started a pretty tight-knit community of homeowners who then proceeded to give those homes over to their children through inheritance and down through the generations. This created generation of generation of hardworking homeowners who knew their neighbors and were deeply involved in their neighborhoods.

-Dick move #1 by the Government: In the 1960s they built 1-70 right through the heart of the vibrant, suburban community inspite of thousands of people protesting.

-Dick move #2: They declared the homes and the area condemned and started displacing hundreds of people. The residents attempted to sue them and the case went to the Supreme Court, but the government sided with the government and the homes were bulldozed for far less than they were worth leaving the former-homeowners screwed.

-Dick move #3: The area they were living in was a Residential Zone and in the 1970's the government decided to redistrict the lines of the community so it was no longer considered Residential and therefore it became ILLEGAL for them to make ANY updates to their houses. If your driveway was cracked and your roof had a leak –tough luck. This remained in place until the year 2001. For 30 years residents were unable to make even basic updates to their homes –running the value of property and the area in general into the ground.

Fast-forward to today. Denver is a blossoming cityscape with many many land-developers buying up as much property they can to build new houses and apartments on it to ride the wave of financially gouging new people moving into the city. This has brought the price of land up throughout Denver and has led to a lot of “gentrification”.

Unfortunately for those formerly renting places in the area –this means they can no longer afford to keep up with the rising costs and will inevitable be sent packing. It also means that the land-buying opportunists are eyeing people still living in the broken area of north Denver and saying, “Hey I can pay you what your house is worth on face value.”

You end up with a situation in which common, every day, hardworking people who have lived in the same place for generations are now forced to sell their crumbling homes for $200,000 on land that could easily be worth $400,000. I mean obviously it’s their fault right. They chose to be poor and everything.

A lot of the people in these communities are also very diverse racially –Hispanic, black, and white home-owners throughout the area.

So Denver, like many booming cities, is making the mistake of “displacing poverty” where the invisible low-income family is being muscled out of their own homes to be chucked further out of town –probably to the impoverished areas of Aurora –instead of being supported.

Another issue the community is having is The School v. Railroad Tracks. Recently the residents actually had to convince the government that a bridge was worth building near their schools because in order to get to it, Elementary school children had to cross over train tracks –and when trains were around UNDER and AROUND the live acting trains to get to school every morning.

It’s astounding how much crap can be forced upon an entire area of people doing absolutely nothing wrong other being home-owners and possibly being of a race other than white.

On top of all of this a recent article says homeless are now suing the city of Denver for systemically forcing them out of the area:

A group of homeless people have sued Denver, claiming the city has systematically forced the homeless out of the downtown area, illegally taken and destroyed their possessions and violated their civil rights in an inhumane and vindictive way.

The 36-page complaint, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver, accuses the city of clearing downtown of the poor and displaced by conducting sweeps of homeless encampments in order to make way for new housing and economic development.

"While gentrification may have positive benefits for a few, it is not a legal basis for treating this vulnerable class as though their civil rights were non-existent," the suit said. 

The lawsuit, filed by a group of homeless members of Denver Homeless Out Loud, requests class action status, which would make all the city's homeless plaintiffs.
"As rents have risen and the number of displaced have increased, shelter beds have remained stagnant," the suit says.”

The only good news is that various non-profits and groups recognize what is happening and are stepping in to defend those who would be left ruin.  

They are also working with the home-owners of these areas so they know what their real options are and have support to remain in their communities if they choose. Because of this attention –even the school system, which had formally ignored the struggling neighborhood and its school –also started sending more resources and support since it became glaringly obvious to everyone that they had been neglecting that area financially for decades.

Hopefully the community stands its ground and isn’t bullied to further sinking by those who would seek to profit off of this oppressive situation. 

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