The recent article by Anna Ewart about the conversion of single-family homes to rental housing has negatively affected quality of life, seemed incongruent with the U-District Partnership Alliance’s stance that renters are still welcome.
The partnership’s goal to promote long-term investment will be achieved by marketing to “people employed in the University area.” Yet are these homes actually affordable on most University salaries?
There is a vested interest from the finance industry to push people into buying homes they cannot afford. Even if a person were to obtain a loan five times their annual salary, the houses in my neighborhood would still not be affordable to most. For some, the only way to live close to work is to rent.
The article also stated that it was “easy to tell owner-occupied homes from renter-occupied homes” and that “landlords don’t care about upkeep.” My out-of-state landlord has paid for considerable upkeep, and this demonstrates a continued commitment to maintenance. That said, I have been approached several times by different neighbors for parking my car on the street. While this is public property, many homeowners feel that any street parking is undesirable. These actions seem to stem from a belief that public space is also owned by those who live here, and that they have more clout. It reiterates a paradigm where homeowners have the right to make assumptions and to apply pressure on renters to live by their same values or be harassed economically.
Ownership is not the sole benchmark of property maintenance and should not be measured as such by those who have more resources. As renters, it is disturbing to feel stigmatized. Also, with government-assisted housing making up a large portion of this neighborhood, it appears that there are others who are also not being considered.
This project smacks of elitism to me. I hope the alliance will be more inclusive of perspectives from all residents in their neighborhoods. Only then will it be a true reflection of the diverse voices of those who live and want to stay there.
Amy Siqveland is a University alumna. Comments are welcome at [email protected]