Apr 4, 2008

A City Called Contradiction

Yesterday our elected officials and esteemed bureaucrats convened to lament the lack of affordable housing. Our County Executive, generously with our tax dollars, declared he would create a new position to promote this worthy goal. Lately, because of public sentiment linking crime and litter to inter-city apartments, developers have been referring to their proposed apartment projects as upscale, designed to attract young professionals. So, it seems our leaders have concluded we need expensive apartments and cheap houses. In reality, all schemes for affordable housing require a subsidy, just increasing the tax burden on existing homeowners. Considering the problems in our cities; crime, litter and lack of civility, we should actually strive to become more "unaffordable", but who wants to live in an desirable place, that's called a vacation.


Mrs. Dottie said...

I don't understand the need for "upscale" apts. for young professionals. I read that the rent is around $1,200.00 per month. How about "practical" apts.? What happened to the days of young people buying an old fixer-upper row house? If you are young and energetic it's fun to fix up a house the way you want it, and it gives you pride in ownership.

That house in the picture is SO cute! How cheap is it?

Katie Bee said...

In order for a city to be a proper city (which, in my definition, is a place where daily experiences are frequent and varried) there needs to be a range of people living there (economically, racially, age-wise). If everyone lives in an "unaffordable" house, then there's a lot of diversity that just gets deleted from the equation.

It is in my experience that people with money can have a very real "lack of civility," just look at our celebrities! As great as the PR would be, I don't want to see Paris Hilton in Allentown.

michael molovinsky said...

i think allentown really has a "range" of people, if not in all the sections, certainly taken as a whole. this current sub-prime fiasco was actually caused by the government trying to make too many people home owners. several years ago the guidelines were so watered down, that many buyers with no cushion of financial comfort bought homes, so a mortgage point difference put them out of their house.

Anonymous said...

Any attempt to 'plan' a certain diversity is bound to fail. The natural order of things works best. As long as there are no barriers there should be no 'incentives' either. If someone wants to pay $1,200 a month for an apartment at 8th and Hamilton...more power to them. I just don't want to underwrite any of it.

michael molovinsky said...

the farr lofts at 8th and hamilton were subsidized, as were the lofts in the cityline building. the new lofts at the schoen building will also be subsidized. the mayor has denied some of these subsidizes and also exaggerated their occupancy rate. with all the various agencies, (redevelopment,aedc, acid,etc,) hud loans which can be forgiven, facade grants, it's very hard to trace our money.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mrs Dottie and I am a young professional. Unfortunately, "fixer-uppers" are abundant in Allentown and no one wants to push that. It's not chic. My question is where are these young professionals coming from? There actually is a non-profit that I belong to that is supposed to be preventing "brain-drain" in the Lehigh Valley and only a few members actually LIVE here and no one wants to have our meetings in Allentown. I came from Miami, FL and people are STILL asking me WHY I moved to Allentown. The logic escapes me when it comes to what The City is actually planning to do. Three weeks ago they were complaining about how terrible the area was due to the Catch 22 Nightclub and NOW it's a spot for 2008 YUPPIES. Go figure.

Veritas said...

There seems to be a failure by many to genuinely appreciate the true issues in Allentown.

The world is changing. The nature of the middle class is moving toward a greater divide between the "haves" and the "have nots".

It is a society characterized by increasing economic and social paradox.

The local utility pays it's CEO 10 million, wants to deregulate and charge 30+% more by 2010 and that is not seen as criminal.

But we treat those that can not afford the bills as if they were. How long do we think people will actually tolerate this?

How dumb can we be?

This is new territory that requires new action and a new direction. Allentown prefers to follow a template of regional and economic development from another time. It is a slow death.

We all better take a long look at our unrealistic expectations, our exaggerated sense of personal self importance and our total lack of gratitude for the gifts we have been given.

Let's start to make different choices with the intent of helping the total community instead of a select few.

Come on folks get some cojones and do the right thing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Veritas speaks the truth.

Anonymous said...

I moved from Allentown because I was attacked 3 times in 5 weeks. The first time a gang of punk kids, who didn’t know me, tried to kill me for fun. They were laughing as they tried to kick a 55 year old man to death. I ended up in the hospital half a block away, covered in blood, and nearly dead. This was on 17th st at Allen high school, at 10pm at night after a football game had let out. Exactly 4 weeks later, after recovering from 2 broken ribs and a broken nose, I decided to walk home from the college in the opposite direction and take the bus at Ott and Hamilton. Four punks, one with a gun, stalked me to the bus stop and tried to rob me. I jumped out into the street, flagged down some cars and the punks ran off. It took the Allentown police 20 minutes to get to the scene. Then, just 3 days later 3 punks tried to ambush me near the Hanover Acres. I was able to dash through the woods and get home via another route. Absolutely none of these attackers knew me. All that they knew about me was that I was white. Nowhere in Allentown is safe, the drug dealers roam the streets with impunity, and you risk your life everyday just to get something at the grocery store.

Allentown is lost. It has been taken over by people who barely rate the title of animals. You are wasting your breath on “housing” issues, because the city is trashed every day by the residents. Illegal dumping is a sport, not just a problem. And the homes are falling apart because nobody in their right minds would spend a dime on this huge junk yard you call a city. Dorney Park has to hire armed guards at the waterpark just to protect the young girls from the animals in Allentown, and the Allentown library has to hire an armed guard just to keep the school kids in line. And it goes on and on. This may not be Politically Correct, but it is life-and-death reality. Let the animals have Allentown; I have other places to live, in safety and comfort.

Thank you and goodbye.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine one person being attacked three times! Not to be funny, but that guy must be some sort of thug magnet to get jumped at Ott & Hamilton and at Hanover Acres, etc. Terrible.

However, what I take issue with is the idea that the city is overrun with animals. I live here and I'm certainly not one of them and neither are the other people who posted on this blog. The thing is, if we don't do something to make Allentown safer it's just going to spread outside of the city - so people who moved away and think they're safe should think again. If the criminals get driven out of one place they eventually end up somewhere else. None of us deserve to live next to that, it just happens by accident. This is why we ALL should care about the situation in the cities, the traffic in the burbs, the loss of farms, and so on - we are all tied together in this thing.

Veritas said...

I can only begin to understand the frustration and anger anonymous above is feeling. If I were in the same situation I may not be as restrained.

When events like this occur it seems natural to be left with a tremendous sense of powerlessness and vulnerability. Not a nice place to be, it takes time for this to pass.

I would probably have left as well. Anonymous mentions he was on foot and waiting for the bus. Nothing wrong with this, more of us should walk but it is dangerous to do so.

Only problem is in Allentown when you walk you are more vulnerable to the antics of the predators who roam our streets.

And yes there are more criminals and yes crime is getting more violent in Allentown. Not everyone comes to Allentown for the parks and emerging job opportunities.


If this happens to you who do you complain to? Who will listen and understand either in the police department or in city hall? Who comes to see you in the hospital? Who pays the bill?

Sorry we really have no idea until it happens to us. For many people Allentown is a terrible place to live. For a variety of reasons they are exploited. This is their experience. Just as valid as my experience is to me.

I find it sad when the victim is treated more like the criminal than the perpetrator, as happens many times currently.

Easy excuse - blame the victim - a lot easier isn't it? The innocents end up loosing their rights.

We have to give things up, like walking, to protect ourselves?

When we bitch and gripe about it we are often treated with disdain by those in charge i.e. my experiences in A-town.

The price of freedom according to Thomas Jefferson is constant vigilance. Regardless of who you are and what your circumstances are, remember to practice vigilance everyday.