Jan 21, 2013
Yesterday's post questioning the expanded mission of a popular local charity drew only one reaction from a indignant reader, I thought there would be more. Alfonso Todd, local activist, actually complimented the concept of applying diligence to our giving. About twenty years ago I formally opposed a Habitat For Humanity Project. Their plan for three new houses would have blocked the side window in a property I managed, denying my dwelling both light and air. Habitat's plan was endorsed by the City, The Redevelopment Authority and defended by the city solicitor. After the hearing, at which I prevailed, Habitats Regional Director came up to apologize to me. Seems they went with their standard straight wall plan to save time and money, even though everyone knew blocking a neighbors window was improper. He told me they were such a sacred cow that nobody had ever opposed them before. UPDATE: I reprint this post from May of 2008 to provide a reality check to the current controversy over the proposal by the Lehigh County Commissioners to eliminate an additional tax for Affordable Housing. Although the Habitat homes were to be helped built by the lucky recipients, they never in reality put in any sweat equity. The reality was one organized group after another lining up to work and feel good about themselves. One home was occupied by recent immigrants to Bethlehem, the other two by relatives of the first family, who also came directly from outside the area. A statement in today's Morning Call about the North Street Project costing more than the homes sell for is correct. Build a stronger poverty magnet, infuse it with guilt and few strong advocates, let it simmer for twenty years, and you get Allentown.