Saturday, August 7, 2021

Section Eight Housing and the Incredible Absence of Integrity


Shock and near panic rippled through my section of Lexington County recently with the news of a Section Eight housing project being built in an area surrounded by upper middle class subdivisions. I learned of the news from the “Nextdoor” social media app, something akin to Facebook but emphasizing local neighborhoods. Two or three years ago my subdivision's Home Owners Association started pushing for all the residents to join so we could communicate faster. Prior to last Tuesday when the Section Eight panic began I strictly limited my participation to receiving email alerts in case something other than asinine bullshit was ever shared.

What I mean by asinine bullshit involved countless garage sale notices, inspirational writings of a religious nature, along with the expected hyper-patriotic posts involving shrill civilians all wanting everyone else to know how much they truly loved America. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing for the most part. You would be a fool to expect a duck not to quack and a cat not to go meow. It's what they do and comfy, fat American civilians who live in McMansions love their miniature English estates and get teary-eyed about a country the vast majority have never lifted a hand to serve in any capacity.

I was already at work Tuesday morning when I started checking my email and saw the fearful subject lines of the disaster that was going to befall on the perfect subdivisions near the purposed housing project. Crime, property devaluation, unruly elements that would make it unsafe for families to walk the streets at night were all common comments by the people up in arms that their area would be saddled with poor folks trying to find a decent place to live.

I'll give a few of the scared locals a little, backhanded credit. Some did couch their complaints in semi-reasonable areas such as the schools are already overcrowded and that local traffic is a damn nightmare. But the area schools have been overcrowded for literally decades with some already pushed beyond capacity the same years that start operation. The summer my daughter's middle school opened for the first time the tar on the roof wasn't even dry and the school district was already buying portable classroom trailers because they had too many students.

Describing the local traffic congestion would have me devolving into fits or rage best left untouched. Just understand it's bad and every addition of a new fast food joint, strip mall, or convenience store/gas station makes everything exponentially worse. Throw in an ambulance trying to save someone's life or a fire truck in route to an emergency and the already slow traffic can come to a confusing, messy stop.

But I'll be sickeningly honest, the majority of people against the section eight housing wrote their comments in such as way that it was painfully clear that they had particular worries about the future residents living in the housing project. I'm sure they had poor redneck white folks at least partially in mind as their fingers danced in fear over the their keyboards. But it was obvious that there was some racial and ethnic fears being stoked by those opposing the project.

Just to make things that more ridiculous, a few even began bringing up conspiracy theories involving the usual suspects on the left. One person wrote about how this was an attempt to change the voting population of the county. That person's point being that the area is so deeply politically red that some nefarious group or individual was trying to throw political blue into the area mix. Another spoke openly of another conspiracy that someone was purposely trying to damage the property values.

Just understand, the sharing of possible conspiracies got deep as the comments began to pile up in number. Not that it surprised me, for a couple of years I had a certain local lawn irrigation company help me with my troublesome sprinkler system, that is until the owner in a offhanded manner back in 2008 said he knew for a fact that Barrack Obama was a Muslim. I may live among the crazy, but I don't have to do business with them.

What actually depressed me though, was the total lack of empathy the vast majority of people writing comments had for anyone they perceived as outside their suburban socioeconomic level. From their point of view, everyone who would be living in the section eight housing would be a drag on the upper middle class area. Now about four or five brave individuals challenged the majority in the comments essentially saying, “poor folks have to live somewhere too.”

That's when the accusations of being a liberal/”libtard”, Marxist, socialists troublemaker began flying. This might make a few people reading this angry but you can't throw a rock in my area without it coming close to numerous upscale churches that in my opinion act more like country clubs and whose parking lots overflow with luxury cars. I scanned pretty hard but failed to find any individual oppose the majority and agree with the section eight housing project on the grounds of the teachings of Jesus Christ. You know, the love thy neighbor angle that was drilled into my head during Sunday School.

The few individuals standing up for the poor were strictly social justice warriors on the secular end of the political spectrum.

The only conclusion I can take away from this disgusting situation is that we have degenerated into tribalism. America and Americans don't really exist in this day and age of paranoia and extreme gaps between the rich and poor. We've long since successfully balkanized the country between the elite rich and those living in abject poverty. But the fractures have spread to the middle class with those living in comfort already turning on those who can't purchase their way into McMansions.

Hey, I don't agree with it but I can understand billionaires or multimillionaires acting like old English aristocrats consisting of dukes, earls, and barons. But it seems clear to me even a lot of middle class folks have an irrational animosity towards poor people.

Affordable low-income housing is difficult to find in the best of times. And while there would be issues with the construction of section eight housing what are poor folks supposed to do? Conveniently retreat deep enough into the shadows of society till they can't be seen by the easily disturbed middle class?

I didn't want to bring myself into this rant but I didn't spend twenty-one years in the army and National Guard to be a part of some bullshit experiment in social Darwinism. I'm no saint, but I have enough of a conscious that I can't ignore those less unfortunate than me. I just there was an easy way for me to flee this chicken shit county. 


 Here's an edited screen shot of one small segment of the comments


The Bug said...

I think I'm beyond being angry about this - I'm just very very sad.

Jeff said...

I just started reading David Brook's book, "The Second Mountain" where he repudaties his former belief about conservative individualistic freedom for more of a collective conscious, nothing where our nation's 50+ years of focus on individualism has gotten us.

That said, I saw a lot of this kind of talk on social media when I lived on Skidaway. Now, social media in my new locale seems more about lost dogs and cows out of their pasture and into the road!

The Armchair Squid said...

I've been wondering what all of those folks mean when they speak so proudly of the Land of the Free. Freedom from what, exactly? And for whom 'cause they certainly don't mean everybody?

The mess isn't new, of course. People speaking of it in such openly hostile tones feels new but it probably isn't either.

What do we do?

Keep speaking out, I guess.

Good luck with your neighbors.