"A Tough Sell," Naomi Zeveloff, November 8
As a Stapleton resident not living in affordable housing, I would like to say that we do not all share the same fears as Margot Vahrenwald when it comes to having more affordable options in our community. It is too bad that people still hold those unfortunate stereotypes against those whose circumstances led them to earn less money.
I take offense with her portrayal of boombox-toting, violent vandalizers potentially upsetting the "fabric of the neighborhood." Many of us in Stapleton welcome economic diversity and believe that it will make for a stronger community. One thing that attracted my wife and me to Stapleton was the promise of a more "urban" experience, with more economic and racial diversity than other new developments on the fringes of the city. "A Tough Sell" highlights the hurdles in this plan well, and we hope that in the future there are more options for affordable housing and fewer fearmongers like Vahrenwald.
P.S.: Miss Vahrenwald: I own a boombox, and my wife and I make plenty of money. Maybe we're neighbors.
Let's revisit the obstacle of deed restrictions, as it is the sole reason I don't live in Stapleton's affordable housing myself. At the time, about three years ago, I met the income restrictions and feel I could have gotten financing, especially since I have since purchased a new home elsewhere. I was looking at the homes in Syracuse Village and liked what they had to offer. I could get a nice two-bedroom place with a one-car garage for a good price. Yes, the interiors of the units were plain and there were no available options to make them more appealing, but the floor plans were good, the balconies well-placed and spacious, and the location within Stapleton — right around the corner from the town center — was hard to beat.
But when purchasing a home, one has to consider the future, and in the case of affordable housing, that means taking a look at the deed restrictions. When selling one of these homes, the seller is limited to a maximum price based on a percentage increase between the purchase price of the home and the appraised open-market value of the home, as well as the number of years of ownership. Based on the information the salesman gave me about the market value of the home and the projected appreciation, I determined that the best time to sell would be after five years, at which time I would potentially be able to earn up to 50 percent of the equity I would have been able to earn had I purchased a home for the same price with no deed restrictions. That was the best-case scenario. I could only sell to an affordable-housing buyer; under no circumstances could I rent the home out. I felt that my maximum selling price would be at the whim of an appraiser, who might devalue the home because of its affordable status. If it took four years to sell these units out when new, how long would it take once they were a few years old? What if the affordable housing program changed beyond recognition? What if the program made it impossible for income-qualified customers to qualify for the mortgages?
In the end, the risk seemed too high, so I walked away. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
"Hard Evidence," Luke Turf, November 8
The Glendale prostitution sting illustrates that local law enforcement has no clue. It is apparent that not only was there misconduct on behalf of law-enforcement officials, but the police still do not properly investigate the full circumstance of a greater crime that is right there in front of them. Some of the prostitutes were not from the United States; did officials check for green cards or to see if these women were trafficked from abroad as sex slaves? And did authorities take into account the women's well-being and safety?
In essence, it appears that not only did the Glendale police fail to play that game called "20 Questions," but they also failed to recognize who the real victims are.
Taras S. Hamiliia
Editor's note: To read more, click here.
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"A Swell Romance," Michael Roberts, November 8
I have been reading Michael Roberts's Backbeat pieces since he wrote about a band called Men About Town. Long time, right?
His article "A Swell Romance" is the best he has ever written. Glen and Markéta are two unbelievably talented people. This show is a "once"-in-a-lifetime experience.