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Of course, finding a way to buy homes for $1, and fix them up for multiple occupancy still leaves homes to be bulldozed, but if planned well would also leave a suburban village better positioned to stand up to the coming economic shocks.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 01:26:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a lot of money to do it, because the cost of maintaining a home has to be subsidized, and obviously, this cost, even for families without a mortgage, is really significant. Once you update a home and make it habitable, it's worth say $50-75k. Heat at $5k a year, electric at $1.5k, water, sewage and trash at $3k, property taxes another $3k. Another $1k in home insurance. You need $14k a year to simply maintain a home, and this doesn't cover maintenance!
by Upstate NY on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 03:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's $135/week if its split into two residences, or 17 hours at $8/hour, $90/week if its split into three, or 12 hours at $8/hour, plus the materials for the reconstruction and maintenance and the labor share that goes into that.

Evidently the system would require ongoing employment of some form in order to keep going, though the bulldozing of some neighborhoods would open up the possibility of truck gardening for some of that.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 05:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we're talking about a homeless population, correct?

There is Section 8 housing all over my city, no shortage of it. If you do the math: welfare + section 8 housing, you come out ahead by going through the Feds.

I guess the Feds themselves could make these homes into Sec. 8, but in my area HUD always prefers big apartment buildings. I rarely see Sec. 8 homes.

by Upstate NY on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:30:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... population. Economically homeless, rather than the homeless populations created by the closure of long term mental care facilities and by family break-ups, often involving violence against women.

There's a certain amount that can be done by leveraging existing federal government programs. But obviously federal government programs are always designed with the objective of only taking care of a part of the problem at hand ... or at least, over the past thirty years they have been.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:41:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you've got to think about who the neighbours are, and the possibility that the house will still be worth $1 after it's fixed up.

There was a street of houses in Salford in the early 90's, I remember, where houses sold for a couple of hundred pounds.  They'd been a normal sort of price until a single antisocial family moved in, and terrorised the area. Everybody wanted out, nobody wanted in.

If $1 houses are available, and the homeless aren't buying them, there's likely to be a good reason.  I'd rather live in a relative's garage than take my children to live next door to a crack den, for instance.

by Sassafras on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 04:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... there aren't any neighbors. They all went to Phoenix or Florida or some such, or are living with family.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm responding to UNY's scenario, where the $1 houses are crack dens, i.e. occupied. Those are the sort of neighbours I'm talking about.

If you can manage to start with a clean slate, occupant-wise, then what you suggest can be done. Up until a few years ago in the UK, tenants of social housing couldn't be evicted no matter how atrocious their behaviour, and there were cases where loutish families trashed entire neighbourhoods.  There was nothing, however, to stop councils knocking their own property down.  I do know of one gone-to-the-dogs street where a council applied (to itself) for permission to bulldoze the lot, rehoused all the tenants (the "problem families" going to the empty houses next door to other "problem families" elsewhere in the city) and then..."changed" its collective mind, did up all the houses and put in new tenants, turning a dangerous street into a sought-after one.

It worked. There are problems with it, obviously, insofar as somebody has to decide who are the deserving and undeserving poor. If it's applied solely to "families who have 200 other families living in fear of a brick though their window", then I think few would argue, but it's obviously a system open to prejudice and abuse.

(The other problem that tactic created (of concentrating social issues) no longer applies because councils are no longer required to house antisocial tenants, and such families are now simply evicted.  Where they go, I have no idea.  There were a couple of high profile evictions and the issue just slipped off the radar. )

by Sassafras on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 03:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are problems with it, obviously, insofar as somebody has to decide who are the deserving and undeserving poor.

That's never stopped British social workers...

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 03:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it doesn't stop them.  But the whole UK benefit system, really, demands that you constantly prove you are "deserving". Assessments of needs, for instance, are just an extension of that culture.
by Sassafras on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 04:35:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... of a situation like Flint, Michigan, where there were already entire vacant neighborhoods before the foreclosure crisis began picking up steam.

And, of course, a cooperative buying the property would be under fewer restrictions on what who it will accept for membership than a city or town council.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 02:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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