A conservative, as the saying goes, is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. Well, it appears that a large number of liberals in the affluent Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., have been mugged by reality. Whether they become conservatives remains to be seen.
In a social experiment that could have implications here in Virginia where the idea of mixed-income housing is all the rage, the D.C. Housing Authority increased in 2016 the maximum value of vouchers to 175% of fair market rent as set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That meant, according to the Washington Post, that vouchers could be used for one-bedroom apartments renting at up to $2,648 per month.
At Sedgwick Gardens, a historic Art Deco apartment complex overlooking Rock Creek Park, one-bedroom apartments rented for about $2,200 per month in 2017. The apartment complex, located in D.C.’s predominantly white Cleveland Park neighborhood, is, as the WaPo puts it, “a bastion of urbane liberalism where only one in 20 voters cast a ballot for President Trump in the 2016 election.” The reaction of many Sedgwick Gardens inhabitants to the influx of tenants directly off the streets, however, was less than warm, tolerant and embracing.
Tenants filed complaints about panhandling, excessive noise, pot smoke in the air, feces in the stairwell, and other incidents that made them uneasy. They issued 121 calls for police service in 2018, up from 34 in 2016, although police determined that actual crimes had taken place in only five of the incidents.
Also, it turns out, in the WaPo’s words, “some tenants have fled.” Indeed, one might describe Sedgwick Gardens as a modern-day example of white flight, considering that so many vacancies opened up that two years later nearly half the units now are comprised of voucher holders.
But maybe it would unfair to refer to the negative reactions as a white thing. The situation has gotten so bad that African-American voucher tenants are upset, too.
“It’s not about the voucher program. It’s not about racism. It’s about people’s conduct and behavior,” said Lorraine Starkes, 61, a formerly homeless woman who moved into Sedgwick Gardens using a voucher about two years ago.
Starkes, who is black, said some of her fellow tenants with vouchers were not properly screened by city officials before moving in. Now, she said, those residents have overwhelmed her new home and “are trying to turn it into a ghetto.”
Lawrence Hilliard, an African-American and a 69-year-old Marine Corps veteran, also moved into Sedgwick Gardens under the voucher program: “It was away from the violence and the foolishness, man, that’s the main thing. And then the violence and the foolishness came up here.”
Bacon’s bottom line: Most people like to live in peace and quiet, free from drugs, free from fecal deposits, free from noise, and free from crazy people. That’s not racist. That’s not bigoted. That’s human nature. Whites and blacks, especially the elderly who feel more physically vulnerable, see things largely the same way.
Intellectuals Yet Idiots (see Nicolas Nassim Taleb for a definition of IYIs) have all sorts of noble ideas about how to help the poor and downtrodden through social engineering. But they have no skin in the game. They suffer no repercussions when their theories blow up. But they have plenty of victims. It appears that a few dozen Washingtonians — most of them likely to be nice, well-meaning liberals — have experienced first-hand the phenomenon of unintended consequences. One can only hope that they learn something.There are currently no comments highlighted.