Tuesday, September 02, 2008

People don't get it. . .

What follows are some of the "delightful" comments readers posted in response to The Dallas Morning News story about citywalk@akard, our Downtown affordable housing development that includes housing for formerly homeless individuals. Not everyone responded in such negative terms, but most did. Take a look for yourself:

Posted by Tiredofdowntown
Everytime I have to go to downtown Dallas I get a sense of dread and disdain. You cannot walk through downtown Dallas without being hit up for money by the dregs of society. Now they want to give these same people the right to live in a place they can't afford so they can continue their lifestyle of living off of other people's hard work. It just shows why Dallas is in decline and downtown Dallas will never become a desirable place to live.

Posted by Always Confused
Hmmm....Let me get this right...no auto body shops on the way to downtown but low income housing is OK in downtown proper.

Posted by sickofstupidpeople
Can someone tell my how I can live in a place I can't afford? Where can I sign up to live beyond my means at taxpayer expense?

Posted by sickofstupidpeople
What the heck is economic diversity? I don't see any advantage of living next to lazy mooching welfare slugs who are unable to use birth control. ACORN and other poverty pimp groups are a bane on society. They suck away taxpayer money and destroy good neighborhoods

Posted by frisco steve
I wish you all success. I want everybody to be successful. But where is the profit if you rent out at below market value? Just doesn't make business sense. It sound socialist. Everybody get the same stuff, but you must pay according to your income level. What is the motivation for people to then excell to get ahead if they can do less and get the same thing?

Posted by Ken325
We do not want to adapt the homeless policy that California has. San Francisco would be a nice place if it didn’t smell like urine from the homeless people reliving themselves in public. Dallas should outlaw panhandling in Downtown. We should install donation boxes where the money goes to homeless shelters and halfway houses outside of downtown. When you give a handout to an addict all you are doing is enabling them to continue their bad habits. We need a get tough homeless policy from city hall not more pandering. We dam sure don’t need a homeless shelter or public housing screwing with efforts to make downtown livable.

Posted by AvoidTheGroid
"Crime rate set to rise rapidly by spring in downtown Dallas"

Posted by frisco steve
how much tax abatement are you getting to allow low-income apartments to bring down the value of your building? I hope enouogh to cover the cost of your apartments, and make up for the lost value when you decide to sell in 2.3 yrs.

Posted by woolfmancamo
. . .I think what the people on this message board are TRYING to say (and you are not understanding) is that we are not happy with the people who EXPECT things for free. You, yourself, sound like you have your head on straight. I commend you for working and making the most out of what you can. What I DO NOT and WILL NOT understand is the people who feel that they DESERVE the best without putting forth any effort. No individual DESERVES anything. They must work for it, just like the rest of the working people in this World.

Posted by frisco steve
. . .Has anybody given you an opportunity to live in a high priced condo downtown at the same rate you are paying today? I'm thinking not. Why cant those that need help be as content as you are to live where they can afford withouot being given a high rent place at a low rent rate? I'm not judging anybody by their income. I have been low income in the past, and lived the life. I'm just saying, earn what you get.

Posted by onejoey
Once again, rich people buying their way into heaven by imposing their "good works" on others.... If its such a worthy idea, why don't they build low/no rent housing in their neighborhoods?

Posted by gfu
what????? there's going to be a "bridge" built from The Bridge to 511 N. Akard? is it another Calatrava? :-(

Posted by UNT_Flyer
Boy, and I thought the effort to revitalize downtown Dallas was really making progress.

So many folks just don't understand our project, mission or values. Even more misjudge and cast aside those who are poor. At times, I've got to admit, it gets really tiresome and discouraging. Most days though the struggle, the fight is more than worth it.

I'm kept going by so many folks on our team here at Central Dallas Ministries. After reading many of these negative comments following the story about our construction launch media advisory, I received an email from a team member that read in part as follows:

"Not only do I love this sort of problem, I wish some of the dissenters could hear the excitement in the voices of the people who are calling. Their hope and faith are apparent. With few exceptions they end the conversation with a God bless you that is heart felt!"

Yep, I can keep going on the strength of that hope.



Politics & Culture said...

I agree that many of those who commented don't understand what you're trying to do.

However, this question stuck with me:

"Everybody gets the same stuff, but you must pay according to your income level. What is the motivation for people to then excel to get ahead if they can do less and get the same thing?"

How would you answer that?

Anonymous said...

I have seen the blueprints of what CDM will be offering to 50 formerly homeless people. They will get a very small efficiency apartment that could not reasonably house more than 1-2 people. It is much like many college dorm rooms. But it will be clean, affordable and safe.

I think just because the project is located downtown most of the people posting created this mental image of a luxury suite with lots of marble and hard wood. That's what their posts sound like. Strong doses of envy and jealousy. Trust me, 90% of them would not be the least bit jealous of the modest units CDM will be offering.

What's actually being offered is very modest indeed. The only thing being "given away" is a decent place to call home, not some luxury condo with a suited doorman.

Another key ingredient being missed: within a short time of beginning to live there, all will be expected to pay an affordable rent, approximately $375-500 per month, for their apartment. And panhandling can get you kicked out.

This project is not about some great move to "equalize" society, as some ludicrously suggest. Look at one of these modest 500 sq ft units when it's finished, then drive the mile and a half to the southern end of Highland Park with its lavish 10,000 plus square foot homes on 2 acre lots. I don't think you could reasonably conclude any "equalizing" has occurred.

These people are just heartless for resenting that CDM is giving people a decent place to live so they can get off the street.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to answer questions when they are based on assumptions that are not correct. Rents at citywalk@akard are on a sliding scale--your income has to be below a certain threshold (set by the State of Texas) or you can't rent one of the low income units. Everyone that qualifies pays the same rent.

But to answer the larger question that I think is behind the question actually asked: The building is in a great location, but the units we are building for low income people aren't luxury condominium units. Well over half are efficiency apartments that are 500 sq. ft. or less in size. We think people will be able to live comfortably in apartments this size, but we are only providing the minimum to live in dignity, not in luxury.

In addition, unless you are disabled or retired, you will have to work to keep your unit.

So the facts behind the question are all wrong--based entirely on the writer's prejudices, not on fact. People living at citywalk will have to work, if they can, and if they want more out of life than just enough to live on, then they will have to earn it.

John Greenan
Executive Director
Central Dallas CDC

Daniel Gray said...

My first reaction to comments was very negative. But your comment from a CDM employee reminds me of your constant invitation for people to come see the work. Hope that the people of Dallas will be able to see what an incredible, life-changing opportunity this is for the marginalized in Dallas and that their negative perceptions are unfounded.

Larry James said...

Politics and culture, I hope the posts after your question help you understand what is going on at CityWalk. What lots of folks don't comprehend is that many, if not most of our tenants have disabilities that prevent them from moving very far ahead. Those who can move up and on certainly will. In fact, we are very confident that our environment will allow those who are able to do just that, as they work from a high-quality, decent housing base and move out from there.

Ramblin' Red said...


I haven't been by in awhile - but this one hits home with me. You're actually implementing some of the things we are talking about here in Ft. Collins, and that's great. Unfortunately, we have a lot of ignorance here also about Housing First models, homelessness and poverty in general. The ugliness and sweeping generalizations just slay me.

For those who get caught up on getting "something" for "nothing" at the "taxpayer's expense," I'm reminded of the vineyard workers' squabblings about the 11th hour worker's compensation - it's right in keeping with JEsus' teachings about human nature, but no less painful knowing that, eh?

Politics & Culture said...

I will be interested to see how the tenants take care of their dwellings. I know how the low-cost housing that was "provided" to the poor in my home city turned out...

I hope this will be different.

Eric Livingston said...

woolfmancamo's comment, "No individual DESERVES anything" is what sticks with me.

Really? Does he really think that? I can't imagine an attitude that devalues God's creation (especially the part of creation made in God's image) to the point that we don't think it deserves care and love. I suppose if we only value people for their wealth-generating-abilities, then some people have no worth. Instead, if we value them as children of God, then they become priceless, and worthy of our help and love. This of course assumes we believe in a creator.

For those that don't have such faith, I guess woolfmancamo doesn't subscribe to that part in the constitution which states that all men are created equally and have certain rights. Housing is not specifically listed in the constitution's list, but I think it would fall under the part about pursuing happiness.

c hand said...

Why do they have to live in downtown Dallas? $500 plus a subsidy for 500 square feet? You could get more than that for less money and without the subsidy in almost any West Texas town.

Daniel Gray said...

Hmm... jobs, transportation, closer to supportive services, the fact that people already live there -- those are the ones right off the top of my head.

You can't built 500 square feet in West Texas for much less than $500 in rent.

Chris said...

I think that your project will have a better chance of success than Obama's pet project in Chicago. I think a small project like yours will be managed better. But consider this from the Boston Globe:

Obama endorsed subsidies for private companies to build and manage affordable housing in Chicago for people who can't afford to live anywhere else.

For example, Grove Parc Plaza has become a symbol of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing--an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

But a Globe review found that the thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state and federsl subsidies, including several hundred in Obama's former district had deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama's close friends and political supporters. Those people profited as taxpayer money was diverted into profit for the developer and campaign funds for Senator Obama while his constituents suffered.

For more info. google Obama and public housing.

belinda said...

The reference to "socialism" really gets in my crawl. Thanks to the politicans that taught us this was a bad thing. "Socialism" is taught in the Bible, Acts 2. Everyone sold their stuff and pooled it for the common good of all.

Anonymous said...

Eric - your constitutional argument is way, way, way off the mark. You can't be taken seriously if you keep making such off the wall statements. No one - and I mean no one - is guaranteed free housing in the Constitution. Comments like that hurt our case to help the poor get into housing.

Anonymous said...

Eric - I guess under your argument, when I was in college and then in post graduate school and was dirt poor, someone should have given me a free place to live so i could pursue my happiness? border line crazy!

Anonymous said...

Daniel, yes there are reasons that some people want to live in cities. The question is why shouldn't these people be housed elswhere, and more efficiently and more ecconomically.

Belinda, two distinctions:
The Acts 2 pooling was voluntary, and limited to the group of believers, not for all.

c hand said...

Daniel, yes there are reasons that some people want to live in cities. The question is why shouldn't these people be housed elswhere, and more efficiently and more ecconomically.

Belinda, two distinctions:
The Acts 2 pooling was voluntary, and limited to the group of believers, not for all.

Daniel Gray said...

anonymous/c hand

You make my point exactly. Carting the poor out to rural areas is not efficient. Few jobs, expensive (no public) transportation, and fewer support services. There are added costs to living in rural areas. (FYI poverty rates are actually higher in rural areas than in urban areas.)

Anonymous said...

We have a lot of poor people living in rural areas: They are called colonias. I don't recall that they are working out that well.

RogueMInister said...

Brother you keep doing what you are doing and dont let folks discourage you too much. God is faithful.

Anonymous said...

I like it! Move them all downtown and have north Dallas foot the bill!

Jeremy Gregg said...

This has never been about making everyone happy. It's been about doing the right thing from our perspective as people working on the streets every day with people that need this kind of housing, but also having partnerships with local businesses and government agencies that want to find a solution to homelessness.

The politics of fear and hatred will get us nowhere. Look at what Bush has done since taking office: increased the number of people living in party by nearly 40%.

Again, this is not about making all that c_hand's and Anonymous people happy. This is about following Jesus into the temple to kick out the tax payers.

"If we want to go deeper, however, desiring that as God's people we will grow together toward maturity, we must care enough to confront."

- Isabelo Magalit
Filipina theologian

Jeremy Gregg said...

Odd typo. I meant living in poverty, not party.

I have yet to find statistics showing the percentage of people living in party.

John, can we commission the bcWORKSHOP to run a longitudinal study on the impact of citywalk on people's capacity to live in party?

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, how did Bush increase the number of people living in poverty by 40%?

Chris said...

According to Census Bureau figures the poverty rate under Clinton was 13.2 % and under Bush 12.3%.

The figures I have seen from other sources vary a tiny bit but are nowhere near a 40% increase. Please show where this is wrong.

Eric Livingston said...

Anon 4:10,

You missed where I said the constitution doesn't list housing as a right. My comments really speak more about the worth of people. The application to this discussion is that if we value people, then that value could manifest itself in affordable housing. My point is, that even nonChristians should value people enough to care for them. The constitution says we are created equal and have certain rights. In my mind, that means the homeless man on the corner has worth in our society.

My argument is that if we value people, then we will treat them better. We tolerate homelessness because our society doesn't value those people, even though the constitution says we all have equal worth.

Beyond all that, as Christians, we have even more reason to love people.

Anonymous said...

I dare say that if the song is right, and "they will kow we are Christians by our love," no one would ever guess that any number of the bloggers quoted in Larry's original post or on this website went to church every Sunday. I sure can't see much love in such sarcasm and vehemence about NOT helping out those in need.

Daniel Gray said...

First, well said 10:02.

Chris, those numbers are cherry-picked and do not reflect the context. Google historical poverty tables. Here's the scoop:

First year of Clinton - 14.8% (1992)
Clinton/Bush transition - 11.3% (2000)
Last year of Bush - 12.5% (2007)

We saw a 23.6% decline in poverty through the Clinton administration and a 10.6% increase through the Bush administration. Not sure what numbers Jeremy is referring to (for a 40% increase), but the context of Census numbers show a decline in poverty under Clinton and an increase under Bush.

Anonymous said...

Eric - my point is that no one is entitled to a free place to live. I agree that we - as christians - should conitinue to do exacly what CDM is doing, but not because of any entitlement or constitutional right or even because in the end it is cheaper to house folks... but because it is the christian thing to do. The fact that many people have such negative comments to this housing issue is because people who work very hard to buy their own home don't react well to comments like the constitution demands free housing for the poor.

osipov said...

I'm not sure it was all "voluntary" in Acts 2.

Some of you really need to STUDY and not just take on face-value what our politicians have told us to make us feel superior.

Anon 9:17 said...

Your comment " ...This is about following Jesus into the temple to kick out the tax payers...", is somewhat inaccurate.

Actually, it was the money changers NOT tax payers

Cheryl Russell said...

Keep your heads up and the great work you are doing! When it comes to being on the side of sheep or goats, I choose sheep any day!

What you are doing for the "least of these" inspires me!

Chris said...


I have no reason to think my figures were cherry-picked any more than yours.

The difference, if there is one, may be explained by illegal immigrants.

Daniel Gray said...

Google the table Chris.

belinda said...

Everything wrong in the U.S. cannot be swept under the "illegal" rug . . .