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Affordable housing vs. inclusionary

Posted: September 25, 2008 9:43 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

While growing up, my family always lived in apartments. Dad had this funny habit of occasionally coming home from work and announcing that he just quit, meaning 3-4 months of unemployment and a possible move while he found a new job. This always made my mom skittish about committing to a mortgage. Later, after dad was gone, mom didn't have the money to buy a house. So, we rented.

Ah, the joys of apartment life. The loud blaring stereos. The neighbor parties that last until 2 a.m. in the morning until the cops come to break them up. The loud arguments that are heard through paper-thin walls or reverberate in courtyards. The plumbing problem that doesn't get fixed for four days. The landlord that bangs on your door on the first of the month. And let's not forget the neighbor's boyfriend that just got out of jail that is "crashing" next door until he gets on his feet.

I had friends that lived in houses. I knew that they did not have to deal with the kinds of issues that my family faced. I therefore vowed to myself that I would not live in an apartment when I grew up. I took steps to make sure that I would not be forced to live in that kind of housing. I studied hard, played sports and stayed out of trouble. I got an education and a career. And, within a year of finishing grad school, we bought our first home.

These experiences have shaped my world view regarding affordable housing and the policies that our community creates and enforces.

Our city council recently voted to move funds from the Newhall Redevelopment Area to an apartment building in Canyon Country. As a reminder, state redevelopment law requires that 20 percent of the tax funding be set aside for affordable housing. Some members of our community disagree. Members of SCOPE feel that this was not correct, and that the funds should have stayed in the Newhall area.

I read the recent opinion column in the Mighty Signal regarding "inclusionary housing" and began to realize that I was seeing something radically different from "affordable housing." Affordable housing can be defined in several ways. The bottom line: Can you afford to live in a location on the money that you earn?

Of course, trade-offs occur in this definition. If an area is too expensive, is it worth it to live far away and commute? Does the time and money spent justify the more desirable living arrangement? What sacrifices must be made to live in a certain area? These are decisions that must be made to determine if housing is "affordable."

When I read the "inclusionary housing" commentary, it seemed very rationale. After all, don't we want people to be able to live where they want? Isn't that the American way? But, this was something different. This was no longer "affordable housing." The author spoke of eliminating "pockets of poverty" which causes "isolation that may encourage discrimination." Further, "it includes all incomes in one neighborhood, giving everyone the chance to be involved with each other as friends and neighbors."
Welcome to the world of social engineering. We see that the real reason is not simply to give people an affordable place to live that is reasonably close to where their labor is needed but to change society and make us all "better people." We once again see the naïve socialist viewpoint that if everyone is forced to live together, then the world will be a better place.

Of course, this comes at the expense of our freedom as well. We must conform to the socialist view and live in areas that are not of our choosing or else we are labeled as racist, class-ist, bigoted, etc.
I worked hard and long to be able to buy a home in an area that does not contain apartments. I would not buy a home next to an apartment building nor would I force my neighbor to do the same. That is my choice. The proponents of inclusionary housing believe that we will not have contact with people of other race/economic/social/religious groups if we are not living close together. This thesis is painfully wrong.

"Inclusionary Housing" is simply a code phrase for "Social Engineering." The City Council voted correctly in this small battle against the forces of socialism in our valley.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.

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