Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Local author Michele Zack had critical words in the Star-News for the City Council's decision on the Desiderio project. Among the many good points made, she notes that the ownership of the proposed Habitat for Humanity homes is uncertain.

Public benefit was trumped on this last piece of the Arroyo Seco land available for city use in favor of nine families whose land tenure will be unclear.

Will they own, lease, or be able to sell at market rate their "gift homes from the city" in 10 or 20 years?

Students of failed public housing policy should at least have a rudimentary sense of one of the biggest failings of the housing project mentality. Simply giving a place to live to a needy family isn't enough. Folks need an incentive to take care of and invest in their living space. For a homeowner, it's important to maintain the property and improve the neighborhood as a whole, because property values rise.

Of course, that's not to say that the Desiderio project will necessarily turn into a mini-slum (wouldn't want to suggest that). But Zack is right to call attention to the uncertain status of the occupants of the proposed housing. See the editorial for many more interesting points.

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