Monday, March 19, 2007

subsidized houses for rich people

I do not normally see my community referenced in the New York Times magazine section. But on page 54 of the magazine section yesterday was a troubling article by Edward Lewine on the hosuing situation in Santa Barbara. The median price of a home here now hovers at $1.2 million. There are multiple conversations going on about how to keep the middle class in homes here with those sorts of prices. Physicians from the midwest turn down job offers because they cannot afford homes of any equivalent size. Many of the teachers, police, lawyers and business-persons commute. I know a couple of pastors who drive in from over an hour away.
The community is now seeking to build a subsidized development for those earning under $177,000. What does the future of ministry look like in this type of economy? Rev. Hugo Otaola, pastor of Isla Vista Covenant Church in Goletta talks about learning to live in proximity to the high-high wealth and the low-low poverty of 3 immingrant families illegally crowded into one apartment.
Is housing an ethical issue? Do people have inherent rights to own homes or is that something that is a uniquely American, 20th century phenomenon? Will the market-place eventually force comunities to allocate affordable space? It's an interesting discussion to observe unfolding here in my back yard.


At 9:11 AM , Blogger kent said...

I believe that housing is not only an ethical issue but a spiritual one as well in our culture. I have no idea how Europe operates or Asia, but here in our culture housing is identity. Our homes speak so much as to who we are, it is our sanctuary. What is experienced in Santa Barbara is not all that different from what is experenced in Chicgao. The prices may be different, but the results are the same, you cannot afford to live there, and you are displaced. You lose community, identity, jobs, networks, all go into having a home.

It is an ethical isue when you can make $50,000 and cannot afford to live in your town.

At 2:01 PM , Blogger Chris Brooks said...

Pastor Don,

Great question(s). I definitely think that housing is, above all else, an ethics/justice issue. I am not so sure, however, that moving poorer families in among the economic elite is truly justice...

Maybe building mixed income developments with intentionality around community building would be a start, although it would still take early adapters from both sides - especially in SB!

Sounds like you have an interesting challenge and a parallel opportunity at Montecito Cov.!

At 9:55 AM , Anonymous Tyler Watson said...

I do think it is an ethical issue. Consider that many of the people who serve the city -- police officers, fire fighters, teachers, etc. -- cannot afford to buy or perhaps even rent in the place they work. Something doesn't seem right about that.

I came here from Erika Haub's blog and like what I see. I've actually been doing a series on home ownership and theology on my blog. Please come look and comment.

At 12:58 PM , Blogger kent said...

What happens when you are priced out of home, not a house but home with connections and identity and belonging? Or when where you have belonged become a strange place because of all you connections have been pushed out? Or if you are subsidized into an area where you can live but you cannot enter into the activities of the community because they are too expensive?


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