I’ve said it before, but I often need to repeat the fact: Central Dallas Community Development Corporation is a landlord. In many ways we aren’t like most nonprofits. We don’t give anything away. If you don’t pay the rent or you break the rules at one of our apartment complex, then we will evict you.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to help people. All our efforts are to develop high quality sustainable and affordable housing. The way we help requires more severity than most programs directed towards low income people. If we can’t pay our bills, then we can’t help anybody. More than that even, affordable housing currently has a poor reputation in communities. The only way I think that reputation can be improved is by long-term, consistent excellence in the operation of our projects.
There may be times when we fall short of our goals, but those goals are always uppermost in our minds.
Because, however, we do evict people, we have a responsibility to think about the effect of our actions. A recent post on the Urbanophile (http://www.urbanophile.com/2010/05/11/megan-cottrell-eviction-is-to-black-women-what-incarceration-is-to-black-men/) reprinted from One Story Up (http://trueslant.com/megancottrell/), brings home how evictions effect people. Here’s an excerpt, but you should really go to the link above and read the entire essay:
“We know a lot about the consequences of incarceration. That doesn’t mean that no one should be locked up,” [Matt Desmond] says. “But it probably means that not so many people should. It may be the same for eviction.”
That means anti-poverty programs need to listen up. Free school lunches are nice. But no amount of school lunches make up for not having a home and not being able to get one. We’ve got to figure out what’s going on in our communities and what solutions can help.
We’ve still got a lot to learn. But to begin, I think we need to start seeing eviction – witnessing what’s happening in our city.
Imagine it’s you. You lost your job. The bills are piling up. The rent is three months late. You’ve borrowed money from everyone you can think of, and there’s nothing left. The notice comes, and you pray it won’t happen, but it does. Your stuff – in boxes. Your children don’t have a place to come home to after school. Where will you go? And how will you put your life back together?
In the same way that we need to think about the after effects of incarceration—because almost everyone in prison comes back to the community sooner or later—we need to think about the after effects of eviction. Just like sometimes we have to jail people, sometimes we have to evict them. It’s part of our responsibility to the larger community of people who live in our apartments.
Even though we’ve had to evict someone that doesn’t mean they disappear. They are here somewhere in our community; maybe on our streets.