Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Councilors

Sent this out today. I urge anyone reading this to do the same.

Mayor, Councilors, and City Manager,

I was alarmed to see the story printed in the Telegram today about the low income housing development planned for Water St in the Canal District. If you care about the city and care about the progress that has been made in one of the truly up and coming neighborhoods in Worcester you must understand that this is a terrible idea and one that could erase everything that has gone on in that neighborhood over the past 5 years. While great strides have been made in the Canal District there is still much to do to get things where they should be and part of that is getting the neighborhood densely populated by a demographic that will frequent the great new restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries that are opening on what seems like a monthly basis there.

Low income housing may very well add more crime, and overall will hinder attempts to make the neighborhood clean and aesthetically pleasing as it must be to be attractive to the young urban minded folks it needs to attract to move forward.

I hope that you take this seriously and understand that along with City Square, the future urban quality of life in Worcester also hinges on the success or failure of neighborhoods like The Canal District, Federal Sq, North Main and Shrewsbury St. We should be working diligently to make these neighborhoods our urban crown jewels.

I understand the development is already approved but I would hope you take the opportunity to oversee the process and make sure that it fits with the character of the Canal District as has already been defined and not let the building become an eventual cultural eyesore that may in fact hinder the rejuvenation of what could potentially not only become one of our greatest urban neighborhoods, but a destination for many in Central Massachusetts and beyond.

Thank you for reading and I hope you understand the possible implications of this development.

In case you haven't read it this is what I am all fired up about:


Big Asshole said...

what are the possible implications of this development? black and puerto rican folks? people who can't afford to feed their families, so they rely on public assistance for help just to survive? granted, all the money folks enjoy how the once ethnic section of town was gentrified, but this is exactly how gentrification works. displaced people need to go somewhere - we still haven't been able to kill them all off.

anytime low income housing developments begin to break ground, notice the characteristics of the folks that start getting frightened. often, there is significant similarity.

this is a great topic to start conversation going though. i'm just curious - where exactly SHOULD low income housing actually go? back to africa?

and really - what SHOULD the shitty of worstever do with the space? make more unaffordable loft apartments?

i think opening low-income housing is a good opportunity to welcome another whole crowd to the otherwise sterile neighborhood - so what if the rich white college breed hanging out down there feels threatened.

Anonymous said...

Big Asshole,
Where did you come from?

Recks Read said...

"Low income housing hinders attempts to make the neighborhoods clean and aesthetically pleasing ."

That is such an insult. My mother and father where first generation Italians, they both barely made it out of elemrntary school because their families were poor and they, as children, had to work to support their homes. As poor as we were, we grew up in a poor neighborhood, where everyday, mothers where bleach cleaning their steps and side walks, and fathers, after a long day of labor, were building walls and shrines to their patron saints and growing vegitable gardens. How is that a hinderence to a clean and aesthetically pleasing neighborhood? What is your idea of pleaseing asthetic? Starbucks and trendy clothes boutiques, and pretentious people prominading around who make over $120 K a year? A pretty empty scenario.

Gabe said...

This sounds like some tried and true genuine nimby liberalism right here Recks. So you would welcome a low income housing development right next door to where you live right? You would have absolutely no concerns? Life would continue exactly the way it had before it was there? You wouldn't keep a sharp eye open to watch exactly how it develops?

Bill Randell said...

Gabe can speak for himself, but I do not think (nor do I think) Gabe necessarily has something against low income housing. The problem is the amount and concentration of low income housing in the City of Worcester.

If you look at any residential real estate developments in the city urban core the last 5 years, I can say without exaggeration 99% have been low income housing. We need a balance.

There is nothing wrong with a housing development with Starbucks and residents making 120K per year. In fact these are the people that we want to live in Worcester.


Paulie's Point of View said...

Recks.....that sounds good in the song the "Streets of New York"...but as someone who has lived and owned in the ghetto for 18 years..I can't recall even one of these bleaching's happenings in my hood or for that matter any of these hard working dads cleaning up the curb you mention..something I do daily:>)

Rich said...

The difference between the affordable housing of my, and I’m assuming Recks', generation and today is employment. As a product of the original low income housing, a 3 decker, I saw people getting up everyday and going to work at employers, many of which don’t exist anymore in Worcester. Most of us that are concerned with the explosion of this type of housing, aren’t bigots, we just see a need for balance. The balance of providing clean, safe, affordable places for people to raise their families while providing them employment opportunities that ultimately give them the decision of where they want to raise their families. It’s relatively easy to convert these buildings into places to live, not so easy to create long term sustainable employment. It’s my opinion that the City needs to spend more time and money on second piece. If we don’t, all we do is place a Band-Aid on the continued hemorrhaging of the American Dream.

Gabe said...

Good point Rich. It's a band aid. It's still not addressing the ultimate problem.

To take the analogy further it's like throwing a band aid on a deep wound, probably one that needs stitches and most likes needs to be sterilized to prevent further infection. It's like throwing that band aid on something like that and just walking away, enjoying your pats on the back all the way to the bank, while the wound festers and becomes infected.

It's malpractice is what it is.

Bill Randell said...

Call me crazy is it no discrimanatory not to allow someone to live some place because they make too make money and like Starbucks coffee?

Rich said...

It’s the dead tree syndrome. No I’m not talking about the beetles, take a look at this op-ed piece from the NY Times.

There’s a bunch of folks in this country who put their heads on their pillows each night and feel good about themselves regardless of whether they plant a live or dead tree. People leave generation after generation of unbreakable poverty living in slums filled with cardboard shacks next to garbage dumps in god-for-saken countries to come here for opportunity and we’re supposed to believe what their looking for is to be put up in an old factory next to a highway in Worcester. All we’ve done is help them trade up slums. But there are people out there that will go to bed tonight patting themselves on the back saying good job. The opportunity their looking for is the same opportunity our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents came here looking for, the ability to create a better life for themselves and their families. Safe clean places to live are certainly a piece of it. This city needs to spend more time and money creating opportunities for people that break the chain of poverty not perpetuate it.

Bill, social engineering is dead. It's the "dead tree planters" that haven't accepted that fact who continue to blame the folks that work hard and get ahead with the problems of those they profess to care about.

Big Asshole said...

just to be clear - i didn't call you a racist, bigot, or any of that non-sense. read my comment and see that my statement was very open and general. if you took it personal, that's all on you. it's like that other guy Randal - he's says, "is it not discriminatory not to allow someone to live some place because they make too make money and like Starbucks coffee?"

to that guy, i'm wondering where the defensive attitude comes in to play brother - seriously. I never said not to allow folks with money! The thread was about if the housing project should go in the Chevalier building and it turned into a discussion on the philosophy of Low-Income Housing Projects in general - which is partly my fault for the tangent and for that I do apologize.

but I mean, come on - he actually said, "There is nothing wrong with a housing development with Starbucks and residents making 120K per year. In fact these are the people that we want to live in Worcester."

Well I got some news, places like Starbucks actually come with a very high cost to mom and pop coffee shops. if we want to celebrate worcester diversity, we don't want starbucks. we don't want banana republics, targets, vitamin world - and all these other franchises and chains so we can be just another one in a million places that all look the same. we want more mom and pops family run and owned businesses.more help to the independent business hopefuls coming OUT of the lower-income demographic. Not more Shaw's on Grafton St type of ghosts.

and come on seriously, 120K per year? people with 120k per year do not live under 290 in worcester. the guy who wrote that is perhaps one of the very few earning that right now around here and he most likely wants to keep it that way.

again, though - my point here was that I don't know you from adam and don't know how racist you are or are not - my point was, people who fear low-income housing tend to have those characteristics - along with the belief that low-income folks don't WANT to work and want to suck off the system (like Paulie seems to keep saying). That ONLY comes from folks who have very little to no street knowledge what so ever.

if anything, kudos for sparking a very heated and interesting debate...

Paulie's Point of View said...

I make that much money Big Asshole and I live on Chandler Sreet where the trees got yanked out decades ago and not one person complained or a City Councilor offered a tax break...I know a few other cats who make as much who are settling in the urban core..

I would love a Staples close by for my business...unless you can point out a Mom & Pop who has set up shop for me to by my supplies local...

To be quite honest I would love to get rid of all the Mom & Pop drug stores in mi hood and I do not mean the type of drug stores where I pick up my Nyquil......I support local sores as much as the biggah ones...

You are missing Gabriels points...folks with moolah are moving back to the urban core....and WooTown is doing everything it can to make this an unatractive thing for almost every part of the city but the west side...I know of many evolving urban environments that have not been overridden by big business but have been moved forward by the smaller business owner you speak of...there is this assumption out there that Mom & Pop can not comepete today..this is wrong..I am a Mom & Pop business and I am thriving amoung bigger event companies.

You did call us racists and snotty rich kids..maybe not directly but you did in your blog.... I have yet to read one of us denounce no-lo income in it's entirety..but many of us agree that the proliferation of it is hurting WooTown and in a huge way.....putting more folks in a poor neighborhood that the city and so many others have spent so much time and money trying to yes..gentrify is down right foolish!

Bill Randell said...

Big A:

You are right people making 120K per year are not living under Route 290.

Don't we want to make it the place where people making 120K per year want to live? Parking garage, canal district, commuter lines--I thought that was the vision coupled with City Square.

Guess that is where we differ. Some of us want to see the City of Worcester go to the next level, where we do in fact attract this type of person to the urban core.

Bill Randell

Anonymous said...

Re: Big Randell

If encouraging white-collar commuter assholes parading around in Accuras with their Starbucks lattes in hand constitues taking things to "the Next Level," - count me out. Don't they already rule the suburbs?

Dylan C., proud member of the <120K earning lower-middle class

Paulie's Point of View said...


I am in your tax bracket and I drive a 10 year old Chevy Blazer and an even oldah Dodge Van for work:>)Live in a WooTown Three Deckah that I own and brew my own coffee....again this misconception that wanting clean streets,responsible neighbors and a house in the hood painted more than once every 30 years means one wants this draconian change...

I have never heard Wild Will Randell preach about more Starbucks and I am in contact with him quite often