The journalista chronicle wrote a love poem to slumlords today that actually made me shake with rage. Her premise is, and I am not making this up, that if people want to live in subcode housing - holes in the floors, dangerous electric, broken window, leaking pipes - who is the government to step in and say that the landlord has to maintain their property to a certain minimum standard?
I have to ask, journalista: have you ever been within 20' of a poor person before, or are you worried that it might rub off on you?
This all goes back to the government, city, state, or federal, staying out of our business. Here you have a building that you own, that nice people live in, and here comes the government saying that people have to move. Why should they have to move if they are perfectly happy living in a building that just happens to be under the city standards? So what if the windows don’t have screens, or the door doesn’t have a separate dead bolt (just some codes in CA for example)? Isn’t that the choice of any American to make, about where and in what conditions they live? Yeah, it should be our choice, not the government’s. If the property owner doesn’t make certain repairs according to the city’s rules, but there are still tenants who want to live there, then that should be absolutely no business of the government’s.
Window screens? Those are for the wealthy people who made good decisions in their lives. If you want to keep insects and wild animals out of your house, you should have gotten a college degree. Dead bolts? I guess if you don't want to be raped, killed and/or robbed, you should live in a better neighborhood. Sheesh, if you're living in this shithole, you must enjoy assaults. You know how poor people are.
I am just utterly blown away that this woman seems to think that (a) minimum building codes are an unjustifiable government intrusion, and (b) people who live in substandard housing do so because they like it.
(a) Minimum building codes include things like fire alarms. You know what would happen if fire alarms were not required? Landlords would come to the realization that fire alarms are expensive, and changing the batteries every six months is a pain in the ass, and they're not living there, so whatever. Who cares if the children of poor people die in a fire?
(b) Journalista included a long, not-really-illustrative-of-her-position story, so I will, too, only mine will be short and on topic.
I have a friend, poor, like me, who is currently living in my basement with his girlfriend and one-year-old child. (It's very nice. Two normal size windows, a seperate entrance, a 3/4 bathroom.) They're living in my basement because they were evicted from their apartment. You see, they chose an apartment based on the fact that while they would be responsible for the electric and water bills, heat was included. Heat in Pennsylvania is a much larger expense than electric and water. It should be, anyway.
Two months after moving in, my friend gets his first water bill. $500. I don't use that much water in a year. Turns out, the toilet in the apartment was broken and water was constantly flowing through it, resulting in the insanely high water bill. My friend called the landlord repeatedly asking him to fix the toilet. Finally, my friend paid a plumber to fix the toilet and subtracted that amount from the rent (complete with receipt to the landlord.)
My friend was immediately evicted. Now he lives in my basement.
That's what happens when poor people complain. We get fucked. We're not happy living in dangerously ill-maintained apartments in crime-ridden neighborhoods. That's just what we can afford. The idea that the government needs to step back from protecting its most vulnerable citizens because those protections are annoying is obscene and shows a shocking lack of concern for one's fellow person.
Shame on you, journalista.