Beautiful ones, it's been a while.
Everyone is still photogenic, but not everyone has the same opportunities, and not everyone gets treated the same.
My dear beautiful elder neighbor Mr Al (~81yrs old), who's lived on my block in the same apartment building for ~50 years, has just been told that he has until Nov 30 to move out because his building must be sold. (Nevermind that he thinks that his lease is good till Dec 31st)
The building is coincidentally (or not) the only building on our block that houses primarily lower income people of color. The activity around the potential sale has felt pretty shady over the last few weeks, and I recently found the listing which feels violent and predatory:
"All but two of the units are on month-to-month leases allowing the new buyer to vacate the units immediately after settlement or turn them over periodically."
This is capitalism at its worst. Investors caring only about financial return rather than social impact. And it's not just Mr. Al that it will hurt (he might have moved anyways as aging alone becomes more difficult... but not on such notice w/o options) – it's all of our neighbors in the building, and the rest of our block.
The building definitely needs investment and attention, but this could be done in a gradual, thoughtful way, with incremental repairs, and allowing current residents to remain as long as they want while vacant units get fancied up and move-in market rate tenants. But God forbid that people of different socioeconomic statuses should share space together...
This breaks my heart.
I am looking for:
a) someone with a big pile of wealth (I know you're out there in my network somewhere) who would be interested in buying the building & either doing responsible compassionate development with it (longer, harder, costs more but worth it for our world) – or gifting it to a nonprofit housing agency / land trust that could administer it in a similarly compassionate way.
b) neighbors who want to support the residents in whatever way they want to be supported. That might mean fighting to keep them in the building, or that might mean looking out for them & supporting them in transition to new homes.
c) support for my own organizing and advocacy as block captain. I'm not sure yet but I'm thinking that Thanksgiving might be a good time for a hunger fast in support of our neighbors. One thing for sure is if this goes down the way the current realtor & developer want, it won't go down unnoticed. We were already organizing a block meeting for Nov 18, but now that the timeline's accelerated, I'm looking to see if we can do something else sooner. We may need press contacts, we may need fundraising, and we might need a flurry of phone calls / social media attention etc.
I want to keep my own desire to rush into this in check somewhat and defer to the desires of the residents, so I'll keep you posted.
On one hand, there are some things that are inevitable. On the another hand, when our most vulnerable neighbors are being threatened, it is not the time to be complacent.
If you have resources to share and/or would be interested in updates about this situation specifically, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.