Over the past several years, since the time that our work led us deeper and deeper into the issues related to developing affordable housing for low-income working people and permanent supportive housing for our disabled homeless neighbors, I've learned more and more about the opposition to such work.
Just last week, while in discussions with city leaders about housing for the homeless, the power of the opposition became more evident than ever as we discussed the political realities of acting against the interests of home owners.
Property owners enjoy amazing power in our nation and in our economy.
A disproportionate percentage of affordable housing developments end up in neighborhoods and communities where the number of home owners is low and where the home owners who are present are not well organized.
NIMBYism is a well known problem for developers who seek to provide fit and affordable housing for communities. "Not in my backyard" is a cry we hear often, even before project plans are fully developed or made known.
We were dealing with it again last week at city hall. It became clear to everyone that a plan to develop a piece of property in the more affluent northern part of our city to benefit homeless men and women would be impossible.
What is it about property and property ownership?
Who says that ownership entitles people to completely lock up and fundamentally control housing development, city zoning and community planning functions?
Is it as simple as this: The rich just have more power because they are rich? Are the poor largely powerless simply because they lack material resources?
Is that how a democracy is supposed to work?
It certainly seems to be the way our democracy works here in Dallas when it comes to property owners and those who have very little in terms of material resources.
As I pointed out in the meeting at city hall last week, we must finally reach a point where someone needs to remind everyone that civil and human rights still count for something in this country and city.
And, if we determine that they don't, we should go to work making sure that they count again for everyone.