Tuesday, August 14, 2007

QCTimes misses the point

Bet on the sure thing: Q-C Habitat for Humanity -QCTimes Editorial

I find it strange that the Times picks this issue to really take Alderman Meyer to task, but you never know what side they're going to take. The editorial never once mentions the fact that if Habitat built houses that look like this image I stole from Alderman Frink's blog of a new old-looking house, a lot fewer people would be resisting. Instead they build houses that would be the worst in almost any neighborhood in town, much less semi-historic ones.

I would also buy their arguments against renovation a lot more if they didn't own a store full of old house parts.


pioneer98 said...

I found it ironic, in the print version at least, that on the page opposite the editorial was a map showing all the vacant and foreclosed houses in Davenport. I'm still struggling to understand why Habitat can't rehab old houses. I wonder if its happened where a family lost their old historic home to foreclosure, then Habitat built them a new sub-par house.

Shelley said...

I don't know for sure, but it may be that older homes present lead based paint abatement problems that have to be handled safely and securely for the family moving in. There are also sometimes issues around asbestos in insulation and siding that make the demo work to prepare the home costly. There are certifications with the health department that must be met. With new home construction, you can have some less than skilled volunteers hammer up sheetrock or siding under supervision. The liability with demolition and mitigation of hazards found in older homes can make it a much more expensive and less desirable option.

Anonymous said...

Shelly: With all due respect, the local social service orgs and others have used that excuse before. There are many more houses without lead paint issues that could be renovated. When I did my house, the contractor found lead paint in all of my door and window areas and simply used a process to mitigate and remove. It took longer, but really wasn't too much more to have it done. The excuses need to stop. Habitat needs to hehab homes. Period.

I also found it odd that the Times ran the foreclosure article with the Habitat article. Think they will get the message?I doubt it, the organization is made of Kings and Queens who are telling us Peasants what we need here SOLO.

freda said...

What's wrong with buildng new in-fill homes on vacant lots in neighborhoods where other builders do not want to build? That's what the local Habitat chapter has chosen as its mission and that's the premise under which they've solicited funds. If you think homes should be rehabbed, then form your own group and do it! Telling Habitat they should change their mission is like telling Make a Wish Foundation that they should be granting ill adults' wishes too. Both noble causes, but the latter is not that organization's mission and not the premise under which they've solicited funds.

Snarky Chick said...

I thought their mission was to provide housing, not to build cheap crap. Other habitat's do rehabs so the line you're trying to feed doesn't mesh.

I loved this quote:
“I don’t think it was a matter of not having a Habitat house,” Crafton said. “I think it was a preference of having a park, rather than a house.”

Habitat needs to get a clue. Just another non profit who takes on that holier than thou attitude that they know what is best. Do the classes on how to lead a non-profit in this city forget to add in you need public support, which means compromise?

Anonymous said...

Way to go Snarky and QCI: Finally some support and leadership on this. Habitat fails to take into consideration something called Revitalization and quality of life issues in urban areas of Davenport. Hey - there are many organized and active neighborhood groups SOLO. A lot. They fight hard to make their areas better, it is ongoing and hard to do with all of the not for profits like Habitat Always throwing cheap housing our direction in the name of helping the poor. It would be nice if Habitat would at least contact a neighbor for once. How about the lot on Christie they fought to the death to get over a neighbor who was taking care of it for years, then only to turn around and see it her way.

YES: we need development SOLO.
NO: We don't need that development to be these little inappropriate houses that Hab builds.

It is time they fit the mission to the needs of the community.

This totally reminds me of John Lewis. The attitude and the way they are ignoring the needs of the community.

Really, the agency is not helping the people they serve by attaching a $65,000 mortgage for a small cheap house when they can rehab a bigger place for the same or less mortgage.

This is just the beginning of thier trouble in Davenport. I suggest they do not look SOLO anymore for lots. We need appropriate and decent infills, not crackerboxes that will be the slum rentals of the future.

Ask the baord and employees of Habitat if they would welcome a habitat house on their block.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen a quote from HfH in the media?
They need to do some MAJOR fire control on their image. Even if its just a lame press release to the Reader. I would think that they would have learned a lesson from JLCH.

freda said...

So have any of you volunteered to work on a Habitat House? Would you volunteer to work on rehab if Habitat chose that as its mission? If so, you have room to talk. If not, then where do you get off telling other people how to run their organization? Habitat is not a government entity. It's not your money; it's not your time; but you're making it your business. You want input? Join the organization.

Anonymous said...

I do agree with freda but the fact that there has been public resistance to new construction by habitat for at least a couple years now would make me wonder why habitat hasn't even compared costs for a reno instead of a new construction and made those findings public in their defense. If they want to serve the community they should at least act like they listen to it.

Anonymous said...

In talking with someone who knows someone, I have heard that the reason Habitat builds new is because it is cheaper to build new than rehab. Now if you figure in the fact that some of these houses needing repair are on the Historical Society's list and having dealt with this group of "house huggers", it's almost impossible to make good ground while these folks fight with each other over your proposed repairs. Just too time consuming.

QuadCityImages said...

I would definitely volunteer to help with a rehab. I would also help with sensitive new construction. With the increasing popularity of new urbanism and its traditional-looking homes, it seems like plenty of plans should be available.

I've been thinking about volunteering with the ReStore "harvesting crew" taking reusable materials out of houses slated for demolition, but I am still bothered by their lack of concern with neighborhood integrity. Unlike some, I do support their mission, I just wish they'd be a little more sensitive to the neighborhoods they build in.

Anonymous said...

I am still not convinced that you have to spend over $50K on a rehab to get the same 'quality' of house as a new $65K ticky-tacky Habitat Home.
Has anyone run the actual numbers?

Anonymous said...

I have run numbers, but not on rehabs, because would not be a blanket figure. Check the realtor web pages and see SOLO many many many properties that are at a really cheap cost, not entirely bad properties that if you put 20K into, you would really have something neat.

I have run numbers on new construction, small but infill and neighborhood appropriate. Nice porches and nicely landscaped. I have even figured in employing real workers or training people to build. Under $70K. Is HFH so blind or just not care - they can make these homes look so awesome and not cost them a dime more. They apparently don't want to or don't care.

I recently met some of the heads of the organization and they were offensive. They snickered and talked while the neighbors of the Warren street project expressed their opinions. They had a you don't know what is good for you attitude. It was horrible. They offered no good reason not to rehab - just claiming that others do that, so they don't need to. Well, I have news for you, we do need you to.

If Hfh wants to continue to build new homes, they need to do so, just not in the central city of davenport.The only new construction we need SOLO is appropriate middle income housing. Homeownership. We got the poorest of the poor and we are suffering because of it.

I am longing for people to understand what revitalization is and how we do it. YES -what a house looks like matters and where is it located matters and most importantly, in older areas (and everywhere), the neighbors matter.

Freda: Myself and my neighbors who live in the Habitat area(s) "get off" being able to tell Habitat what and where because we own our homes at these locations, we have to look at the places daily and our property values and our peace and enjoyment of our homes and lives are at stake.

I know for a fact, the the volunteers for Habitat do not live in the areas they build. I find them hypocritical. Until they can answer the question of whether they would want a Hab house on their block in the affirmative, stay out of my neighborhood with your poor quality housing.

Lastly, Freda, where do you get off telling me or the residents of these areas where Hab is developing that I have to have your homes on my block? You don't live here, so don't tell me that I need to have this occur. Build one in your neighborhood if you like it so much and stay out of mine.

freda said...

The truth is that unless there are covenants or city-imposed restrictions on what type of home can be built in a certain area, ANYONE, not just Habitat, can build whatever type of home they wish on a lot. My point is Habitat is building in neighborhoods where other builders or private owners will not. The Habitat homes I have seen do not use inferior materials. They are small, but small is not cheap. As for the cost of new construction with hired labor, figure $125 per square foot for single-story. Two-stories are less per square foot but still $100 or more. I have done total rehabs, partial rehabs and new construction. The cost of rehab varies wildly with the residence. As an earlier poster noted lead based paint (used before 1978), asbestos, termite damage and other issues unknown until the rehab is already underway make the cost of rehab much more difficult to estimate than the cost of new construction. One advantage of rehab is a much lower property tax assessment for the same-size house. I agree that Habitat homes should be sensitive to their surroundings. The City of Rock Island is working with the organization to accomplish this. The key here is WORKING WITH not shouting at.

Anonymous said...

When members of the board tell residents of neighborhoods to give up, it will never be revitalized they deserve to be shouted at.

Anonymous said...

Freda - I am sorry for being so aggressive with you, but you really concern me. I hope and pray you arent' an active member of Habitat - but I think you are.

We need infill standards in Davenport's central city. The Hab houses are so small and cheap looking and do not fit in. A house that does not fit in, negatively effects the rest of the neighborhood in every way. So, I think it is HAB that needs to change its ways here without being forced by the neighborhood groups who have enough to deal with. Stop fighting with us and start listening to us.

Also, I beg you to examine the value the client's are getting. I don't think that I would want to take on a $65K mortgage if I were a partner family. I can buy a nicer and bigger (much) in the same areas. Why do I want a big garage to live in? PLus have to pay for?

QuadCityImages said...

I think Freda's post at 10:15 did an excellent job of explaining her views in a calm and civil manner. I agree that the only way to actually effect change is to talk and work with people instead of shouting at them. Unfortunately, some folks around here admire the "fight the man" style, so whenever someone is seen with "people in power" they just start throwing accusations around.