Richmond Times-Dispatch

Affordable housing amust forRichmon­dregion



I recently read with sadness about developers’ plans for yet another section of town, the Monument Park area. Companies like Chandler Constructi­on, Cava Companies and Richmond Hill Design would have you believe that million-dollar mammoths are necessary — indeed, inevitable. They are buying modestly priced houses that many people could afford and are turning them into huge houses affordable only to a few. This changes the neighborho­od. Ultimately, perhaps, it even becomes another gated community of cul-de-sacs and security cruisers.

Creating affordable housing does not mean building sweet spaces for the rich and internment camps for others. Affordable housing means making modest houses and apartments that most people can afford to buy in places where they can live, work and easily get around.

Current homeowners can, of course, make a killing by selling to a developer; then the developer can make a killing by turning the house into a monument to class and status, thereby tripling the “value.”

But we do not create value or make progress by destroying communitie­s or sequesteri­ng social injustices and inequities. We make progress by designing cities to be inexpensiv­e places for living, walking and working. Progress comes from linking public goals to the public good, not to private advantage, and from discouragi­ng opportunis­tic efforts to undermine the public good by effectivel­y setting the rules and limits on public policies.

Moderately sized homes for individual­s, couples and small families need not be built like hangars for small planes. A simple rehab of an old house can keep the sales cost low enough for most buyers. They will buy, even though the owner’s and developer’s returns might be smaller. Didn’t we learn anything from redlining?

I would be interested in learning about any efforts to address this issue through meaningful changes in public policy. I’d hate to see any more relatively affordable neighborho­ods turned into Status Gardens.



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