Saturday, March 17, 2007

but DO you have a right to property that's not yours?

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I posted. Where the fuck have I been?! Seriously, if you know, tell me where I was.

In hindsight, though, not posting probably had much more to do with K-fatigue than I realized. At first, it was hard to keep up with the goings-on because of work, being busy with life's responsibilities, etc. Just didn't have the time to post what I wanted to. Then I didn't have time to watch or read much news, and what happened next was probably like getting that first hit of crack for free: it felt so good I wanted more of it! Actually, it didn't feel "good," just less stressful.

I also fell victim to what I've experienced (at least in my own head, so humor me) as another round of communal K-fatigue, this time more potent than earlier rounds. But maybe what really happened is that Mardi Gras did lift spirits and take away cares for a bit. I don't know, just a thought.

Oh, and I almost forgot that I was also horribly ill for a week until about 2 days ago. I got that "respiratory thing" that has been going around, followed by that "stomach thing" 48 hours later. I'm pretty sure I saw "The Light" at least once. Moreso than I am about the city having collective moods, I'm sure the stress has taken a toll on our immune systems. It just seems like so many people have been ill in the past month, or having physical symptoms that are bothersome. I'm sure mold, high amounts of trash and rodent feces in the environment, contaminated ground water and rusted subterrace pipes, and the dust from crumbling streets have NOTHING to do with it!

Considering that we're strong enough to survive our cultural diet and health habits day after day after day, whatever the cause, if it's dangerous enough to make folks here sick, it's likely fatal to most other humans.

And what the fuck does this have to do with property rights, you're probably asking. The answer is nothing. Sorry, I went on a tangent. What I intended to post were my reactions to this whole public housing fiasco, and now the "Section 8" fiasco in N.O. East. I know some of my liberal friends disagree with me, and I consider myself pretty far left. My position, which I don't think even falls outside of liberal or progressive ideology, is this: RENTERS DO NOT HAVE PROPERTY RIGHTS. Don't get me wrong; I know there are exceptions but that's pretty much the way it is.

Alls I know is that in every place I've ever rented, once my lease agreement was up or even up to 90 days before the lease expired, my landlords had every right to say: "Sorry pal, I like ya and all, but I'm selling the place and the new owner will tear it down to build nice condos; so you have to go." And I would've had to really leave! And every judge in America would agree with my landlord, and my friends, after validating my anger and being very supportive of me and telling my landlord he sucks, would pretty much throw their hands up with me and ask: "so when are you moving?"

I'm not supporting not letting people back in to even retrieve their things or bullshit like that. Housing units that were inhabitable after the storm should have been re-opened as soon as people in that zip code were let back in after the storm. HANO probably could have also put minimal effort into making small repairs on lightly damaged units to get even more units open.

That, however, is a separate issue from efforts to stop ANY effort to change public housing in any way at all. The housing advocates and the good folks down at ACORN are right about wanting to keep structures that are sturdy and in good structural condition, but renovating them is not exactly a wacky idea.

But after modernizing them, they have to be converted to mixed-income housing or something. There is absolutely no good reason that I can see why we should keep it like it is. Not one. Don't poor kids deserve decent homes too? And how dare we advocate returning people to homes we wouldn't want our kids to live in?

I think it's sad that public housing residents can't trust the government to honor their commitment to not abandon them after all these changes are made. They have every reason to fear they'll be shoved out of the picture, based on previous experience. I think it's a shame that HANO doesn't seem capable of responding to the people they serve in a respectful and empathic manner. Most of all, I think it's sad that the opposing sides are unwilling, if not incapable, of finding some sort of middle-ground in the vast expanse sitting between "tear it all down NOW and build anew!" and "don't change a thing!" This intransigence is our collective problem, our drug of choice, the monkey on our back -- the one thing we can't shake. The reason we end up back where we've always been is because people are so scared, or skeptical, of change that it stops us from getting anywhere at all.

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