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Old 09-30-2010, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities, MN
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I can tell you from experience that your concerns for your neighborhood change DRASTICALLY when you own property. No one's being arrogant or offensive here. One reason to me is that you can't leave as easily when things turn sour.

I'm sure some renters understand this, but I'm gonna go out on a limb (although not a very long one) and say that most renters DON'T care about their neighborhoods. Why would they? Most renters are transients and if they don't like the location (for whatever reason), they leave. I can't do that with my house. If the neighborhood goes sour, I have to deal with it, specifically the associated decline in the value of my property and the hassle and stress it causes me.

I might have even claimed to "want" mixed-housing (or whatever today's euphemism is) back when I was a renter, ostensibly because it fosters diversity and all that. I sure as hell don't want it now. Section 8? NO. I lived above an S8 apartment and they trashed the place. Learned all I needed to know about that without even buying a house.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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The bias against renting is what got us into this foreclosure mess in the first place; too many people renting who really had no business buying. In many cities people rent for decades, even their whole lives. Being a property owner may change some people's opinions, but I know it doesn't for everyone -- if it did, many of my family and friends would also be choosing to live in economically segregated housing and screaming every time someone tried to introduce any new rental options into a neighborhood. The problem is that there seems to be a difficulty differentiating between good and bad landlords, and good and bad tenants -- good renters add just as much to a neighborhood as do good renters, and a good owner or management company will screen tenants. And for what it's worth, the worst neighbors we've ever had were owners, not renters.

Why would someone care about their neighborhood? Why WOULDN'T they? Who wants to move all the time? (we have for work, admittedly, but I certainly have cared for each and every neighborhood we've lived in; I've volunteered in them, spend more money in order to support local businesses, etc.) You don't have to own a piece of land just to care about your neighbors and surroundings. Renters want to live in decent surroundings, too. Yes, renters can leave more easily, but that doesn't mean that they want to have to do so. Doing so means the hassles and costs of a move, plus potentially pulling kids out of a school, etc.; it's disruptive, to say the least.

None of that means I want to live (as owner OR renter) next to an irresponsible owner or renter, but if all owners only wanted to live with people of their specific economic status than they probably wouldn't be attracted to different types of neighborhoods than I am (and would be).

I've found the bias against renters to be greater in the Twin Cities than anywhere else we've ever lived; perhaps because there aren't as many renters here.

No one wants to live next to bad neighbors, but I find the idea that poor people are trouble and should be segregated into their own separate areas to be very concerning. That doesn't mean I think problem landlords or problem tenants should or need to be tolerated.

Where I took offense was not so much the concept that ownership can change one's opinion, but rather the suggestion that one will inevitably "sell out" one core values and philosophies the moment one buys a house (or condo, or whatever), or that suddenly one's vision of an ideal neighborhood would suddenly change.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:27 PM
 
20,802 posts, read 30,749,011 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
The bias against renting is what got us into this foreclosure mess in the first place; too many people renting who really had no business buying. In many cities people rent for decades, even their whole lives. Being a property owner may change some people's opinions, but I know it doesn't for everyone -- if it did, many of my family and friends would also be choosing to live in economically segregated housing and screaming every time someone tried to introduce any new rental options into a neighborhood. The problem is that there seems to be a difficulty differentiating between good and bad landlords, and good and bad tenants -- good renters add just as much to a neighborhood as do good renters, and a good owner or management company will screen tenants. And for what it's worth, the worst neighbors we've ever had were owners, not renters.

Why would someone care about their neighborhood? Why WOULDN'T they? Who wants to move all the time? (we have for work, admittedly, but I certainly have cared for each and every neighborhood we've lived in; I've volunteered in them, spend more money in order to support local businesses, etc.) You don't have to own a piece of land just to care about your neighbors and surroundings. Renters want to live in decent surroundings, too. Yes, renters can leave more easily, but that doesn't mean that they want to have to do so. Doing so means the hassles and costs of a move, plus potentially pulling kids out of a school, etc.; it's disruptive, to say the least.

None of that means I want to live (as owner OR renter) next to an irresponsible owner or renter, but if all owners only wanted to live with people of their specific economic status than they probably wouldn't be attracted to different types of neighborhoods than I am (and would be).

I've found the bias against renters to be greater in the Twin Cities than anywhere else we've ever lived; perhaps because there aren't as many renters here.

No one wants to live next to bad neighbors, but I find the idea that poor people are trouble and should be segregated into their own separate areas to be very concerning. That doesn't mean I think problem landlords or problem tenants should or need to be tolerated.

Where I took offense was not so much the concept that ownership can change one's opinion, but rather the suggestion that one will inevitably "sell out" one core values and philosophies the moment one buys a house (or condo, or whatever), or that suddenly one's vision of an ideal neighborhood would suddenly change.
Unfortunately there are a LOT of renters out there that just don't care. You are a responsible person, not everyone is-renters and homeowner's alike. Look around, there are plenty of neighborhoods that are trashed because people don't care. The West Side of St. Paul is a perfect example-unbelievable houses there that have fallen into major disrepair because they have been turned into rental properties or people that own them don't care enough to keep them in good repair.

Maybe you won't sell out but I also find it hard to believe that if you came upon a house that had the houses falling down around it that you would really buy that house. I also really doubt that you would buy a house with a huge apartment complex across the street or if you do, plan on never selling it because most people don't want a house across the street from an apartment complex. They want a house in a neighborhood with other houses.

I hope I NEVER have to live in an apartment complex ever again because I can't stand sharing walls with people and with my hearing loss and how loud I have to have the TV up to hear anything, it isn't fair to any neighbors either. I know people that never want to buy a house. They are renting and that is just fine with them because if the water heater goes out, they don't have to fix it. There is nothing wrong with that either but for most people, once they live in their own home, they don't want to go back to renting.

The value of one's home isn't always indicative of their economic status either. There are plenty of people in our neighborhood that are "blue collar" working class, but they are responsible with money and bought and sold at the right time. There are also some pretty high up business executives in our neighborhood that could probably buy a blocks worth of houses in our neighborhood. The reality of the situation is that very few people are going to buy a home in a neighborhood that has an apartment building across the street and THAT is what effects your property values.
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Old 09-30-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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No, I wouldn't buy a house that was surrounded by houses falling down -- but that's not what we're talking about. I think housing should be appropriate to the surroundings and think that often homeownership is a good thing, but it's also important not to run into the fallacy of assuming that a rental property or complex is automatically likely to populated by people who don't care and run by people who allow it to fall into disrepair.

I don't live in neighborhoods with huge apartment complexes, although in the neighborhood I know best (and had intended to buy in, and still may if we end up staying here) does have many apartment buildings of various sizes. I happen to like an area with a mix of places. I have nothing against single family houses, but neighborhoods consisting primarily of them tend to be fairly low density, and therefore can't support the amenities that I like nearby. It's just a different set of priorities, that's all.

And sort of a tangent, but it seems like in the course of discussions like these (I'm talking generally here, not necessarily specifically this thread) a lot of assumptions are being made; that rental housing means apartment complex and that homeowners live in single family detached homes, for example. There are more and more options of housing in the Twin Cities today, for both renters and owners; condos, for example, seem to have really exploded in the past decade. Or, of more relevance, that low income or affordable housing means transient neighbors who don't care or management firms that also don't care. I certainly would agree that not all people are responsible, and know there are a LOT of irresponsible people out there, but think that's all the more reason to embrace companies or organizations who DO have a proven track record renting to responsible tenants, and who will in turn serve as responsible landlords.

It's a valid point that home value isn't necessarily indicative of economic status, although I still think healthy neighborhoods need to have at least some affordable rental housing. I think it actually contributes to stability, as those who may at one point have been able to afford a house (either to rent or own) or more upscale rental options but can't afford it anymore (because of job loss, aging, etc.) can still live in their own neighborhood. Similarly, I think it's nice for people who do live in affordable housing but who like their neighborhood to have other housing options for when/if they can afford to upgrade.

In short, I just don't know that most people do want a neighborhood that has only other single family homes; many people probably want that, but many people don't. I will concede that in many suburban areas many people probably do want that, or else they wouldn't have been drawn to those areas to begin with. Still, at some point I do think that cities (or suburbs) have to offer a sufficient array of both. That doesn't mean that large apartment complexes need or should be plopped down in the middle of a block of single family homes (although in many urban neighborhoods a blend of housing types works quite well), but they don't need to be totally segregated, either. The balancing of different desires and needs is inevitably going to lead to tensions and conflict. (and of course those tensions erupt in both city and suburbs, although sometimes for different reasons; in Uptown new buildings are usually attacked due to a fear of increased traffic or because they are deemed too tall., with affordability usually attacked because most new developments are perceived as being "elitist", even if they set aside affordable housing units.)

Last edited by uptown_urbanist; 09-30-2010 at 07:22 PM..
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Cleveland bound with MPLS in the rear-view
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UptownUrbanist: I am a renter too, and have never owned, and I KNOW that when you own you care a LOT more about EVERYTHING that goes on in your neighborhood, let alone your neighbor. I don't know why I wouldn't, my home is my biggest $investment$.....right?
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Victory Neighborhood Minneapolis
1,777 posts, read 3,434,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
Where I took offense was not so much the concept that ownership can change one's opinion, but rather the suggestion that one will inevitably "sell out" one core values and philosophies the moment one buys a house (or condo, or whatever), or that suddenly one's vision of an ideal neighborhood would suddenly change.
I'm a homeowner, and I've basically agreed with everything Uptown Urbanist has said on this thread. My home value has weathered being close to the epicenter of the worst foreclosure crisis in area history and the massive declines in property value that go with being located in a "hard-hit" ZIP code (not to mention a lower-income ZIP code than most in the metro area)- not only have I lived to tell the tale, but my home value has already basically rebounded to above what we paid and I believe our neighborhood is back to exhibiting average property values above the city's average. Regarding the question about renter investment in neighborhoods- I also think there's a point to be said that families that rent, like Uptown Urbanist's, are likely going to be a lot more invested in their neighborhood than the average single young person (may not always be the case, but with families you have children/schools and a lot of other factors involved).

I also think people, in general, fail to realize that there is a huge population of "working poor" in our metro area who have a need for and/or could really benefit (and potentially "get ahead" a little) from more affordable housing opportunities. There are many more law-abiding, taxpaying, upstanding citizen working poor persons then there are people that commit crimes or cause neighborhood woes/trouble- it's the latter that unfortunately get all of the attention. Communities are safer and stronger when a big chunk of people aren't constantly cash-strapped or having a hard time making ends meet despite full-time plus (or multiple jobs) employment, and UU is correct that it shouldn't be up to the wealthier denizens of an area to dictate where people can live or if they should even have opportunities to live in an area- if there wasn't an area need, there probably wouldn't be any talks of new developments (and in the TC suburbs, I would think that the need for affordable housing would be as much for aging/retired persons as it is for working-age individuals and families).

I like diversity in a neighborhood and in the past have not enjoyed the blandness of areas where everyone's from the same (or similar) demographic. I also want neighbors that care as much about the neighborhood as I (and others) do- although not everyone is going to, there are always safeguards/ordinances in place, or ways for neighbors to get active, in cases where properties are being managed poorly or residents are breaking the law.

It is interesting to see what people 'get up in arms' about based on their type of neighborhood as mentioned by Uptown Urbanist- I used to think the signs you would see in Linden Hills (and/or Edina) that said "no mcmansions" (or 'no monster houses'?) or something to that effect were a little frivolous and laughed a little bit that this was all that residents had to be worried about. Fast forward to the present, where a few blocks away from me a new neighbor leveled the upstairs of a 1 1/2 story on the parkway to create not only a full second story, but a third floor half-story while adding square footage to the actual foundation footprint itself (and it wasn't a small house to begin with- at least 2600-2800 sf). Granted, it looks to be a very high-quality addition/renovation that will have a lot of curb appeal, I'm very happy that it's not the empty foreclosure that it once was, and it's really great to see that level of investment in our neighborhood, so overall that's great. But, I am a little concerned that the new home isn't going to fit in/blend with its historic surroundings on the parkway, and/or that corners will get cut and it will end up looking like a mcmansion (the second/third stories are only framed up at this point).

My point is- I've definitely put more thought into worrying about the potential of a mcmansion going up and detracting from the character of our neighborhood than I ever have about the existence of affordable/low-income housing units doing so, despite the fact that the new mcmansion will likely have a positive impact on my own property's value.

You can't control the market, and there are so many factors involved in property values that trying to control something that only has the potential for a very minimal and/or very temporary impact on them is much more work than it's worth, and, for what it's worth- if what you're trying to control is denying housing options to disadvantaged persons, you might want to think about what your real motives are and/or the example you're setting, and I speak from experience here- I definitely lost a little respect for my own parents when they jumped on the neighborhood bandwagon of fighting a group home from moving onto our street, no matter how many arguments they came up with to rationalize the fight- zoning, increased traffic/safety concerns, neighborhood covenants, property values, blah blah blah...this type of thing is often heightened when (a) local residents feel like their neighborhood is already at risk of or losing worth in the market and (b) the population about to move in is very different than the dominant group of residents (and are viewed to be some potential 'threat' to neighborhood livability).

Last edited by Camden Northsider; 09-30-2010 at 10:26 PM..
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:36 PM
 
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I still think the generalization that renters don't care is just that, a generalization. And I think Camden is right about there being different categories of renters; I would agree that realistically the average young person passing through probably doesn't care as much about the neighborhood (although that doesn't necessarily translate into bad neighborhood, just not as invested), but families who rent have just as much incentive to have a nice neighborhood as do those who own. They are obviously going to be more dependent on the property owner for things like household maintenance (since few renters are going to sink much of their own money into physical upgrades for the house itself), but they have a lot riding on having a community that is a safe, enjoyable place to live. They may not have the financial investment, but there are other types of investment that go beyond simply money. I doubt that I could care more about Uptown and its issues than I already do, for example, whether or not I own or ever own a house there. My investment there currently is emotional, not financial, but for some of us that be pretty powerful. (and I have invested hundreds of hours on Uptown-related issues, even during times of my life I wasn't even living in Minneapolis; I was definitely always one of those "dual loyalist" people)

I started to read a book about changing communities in small town Illinois recently (the suburbanization of small towns there, specifically); one of the issues addressed by the author was the ways in which communities are created, and the tensions that arise when new people moving into an area see it simply as a place to live. They were seen as financially invested, yes, but not emotionally. For me, it's that emotional connection that matters; I want to live around neighbors who care not only about property value, but also about issues relating to livability and sense of place and character, and who have concerns that go beyond just whether or not their investment will retain its value. Even when we haven't lived in a place long-term, and had no intention of doing so, we still did our best to become active in our neighborhood and feel like we were putting down roots; a house that is just somewhere to live seems pretty meaningless to me, no matter how nice the house; it's the broader context (being able to feel like I belong and am a contributing member of our shared community) that matters most. Sometimes not everything is about the money.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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To switch gears a bit, the initial story seems to be a bit over-simplistic in addressing this in terms of "city" and "suburbs;" I know that the suburbs (and counties) haven't all been affected equally. I don't think the old standard of discussing "city" issues holds these days, but what does the suburban poor situation look like when you look at it based on counties or specific suburbs? I know the northern suburbs have been particularly hit by foreclosures, for example. Are some suburbs or counties better prepared for this rise in poverty than others, and do you think that in future, more economically stable years there will be increasing differences between various portions of the metro suburbs?
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Old 10-01-2010, 04:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
To switch gears a bit, the initial story seems to be a bit over-simplistic in addressing this in terms of "city" and "suburbs;" I know that the suburbs (and counties) haven't all been affected equally. I don't think the old standard of discussing "city" issues holds these days, but what does the suburban poor situation look like when you look at it based on counties or specific suburbs? I know the northern suburbs have been particularly hit by foreclosures, for example. Are some suburbs or counties better prepared for this rise in poverty than others, and do you think that in future, more economically stable years there will be increasing differences between various portions of the metro suburbs?
I would guess that the counties that are best prepared for this are the ones that are the most financially healthy-the ones with good budgets and good cash flow. I don't know which ones those are but it would make sense, much like we are seeing in the various school districts right now and the cut in state funding. The ones that with weather this the best were the ones that were financially healthy to begin with.

Available land to build housing will also come into play. Ramsey county, for example, doesn't have a lot of buildable land compared to Washington, Dakota, Carver and even somewhat Hennepin county.
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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Cities tend to age better than suburbs. The older houses in the city were built to last. The grandchildren of those who fled the cities for the suburbs are now seeing the great houses they can have at good prices and moving back.
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