Low-income housing: good thing or bad thing? It all depends on your perspective. For persons with low income, low-income housing and rental units are not only good, but necessary.
For persons with more adequate income, low-income housing may not be something they ever think about. It’s not necessarily true that they don’t care about the less fortunate, though they may not, but the subject of low-income housing is just not on their radar. That is, it’s not on their radar until someone proposes to build low-income housing in their neighborhood. That gets their attention. That changes everything.
And it does, too. That’s a fact: a fact with economic and other considerations. It’s not necessarily an indication of classism or racism or xenophobia. It may just be a rational response to a change that could have many adverse effects – on the value of a person’s property, on traffic congestion and safety and serenity in the neighborhood, on so many other tangible and intangible qualities of life..
These are not unreasonable concerns, but we live in a time when people who express them are demonized as elitists and bigots –and so, few dare to, openly.
But that creates other problems. For instance, what if someone proposes to build low-income housing and local officials approve the plan, but those same local officials later encounter resistance from the affected community?
What do they do? Do they go back to the developer whose plan they approved and say, “Sorry, we changed our minds. Our constituents, the people we were elected to serve, don’t want this project”?
In this day and age, probably not. Instead, they make excuses, dawdle and delay, and hope that the developer will get the message and just go away.
Is that what’s going on with Ed Hightower’s Sunnybrook low-income housing development in Alton?
We don’t know, but it sure looks like it.
The proposed development deserves to be considered, and approved or rejected, on its merits, publicly. Let’s stop playing games and do this the right way.