This post is different from the usual fare here, but I think it’s worth taking some time on. I ran across this post in my news alerts. It’s a look at the human consequences that result when affordable apartments are converted into upscale condos.
I was very surprised at the time that I first wrote about Lock Vista at the seeming bias against renters. No doubt this is a small minority who are particularly vocal, but the sentiment seemed to be, “stop whining about being poor because you’re an artist,” or “if you worked harder, you could own a house.”
I learned that renters have very few rights. One such right is sixty days notification if a rent increase will be over 10%. How generous. Buildings can be sold. Rent control doesn’t exist. The people that I’ve met have owned homes and have chosen to become renters at a different stage of their life.
Three hundred sixty-five days in the year but not enough days for the number people being forced to leave Ballard due to economics. The condo conversion at Lock Vista will affect over 200 people; many have already left. Then there are the renters in triplexes and duplexes – most slipping away without any publicity or outcry at all.
Of course, when the alternative to renting costs twice as much and puts you in financial risk of foreclosure should interest rates rise or the value of your home drop, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You can thank your friendly neighborhood housing bubble for putting people in a situation where the only choice is between insecure renting or taking on financially crippling debt.
(Peggy Sturdivant, At large in Ballard, 12.13.2007)