You've heard these stereotypes about renting, circulated by people and organizations with a financial interest in selling you a mortgage:
- Renting is for poor people.
- Renters don't get involved in their community.
Low- and moderate-income families, as well as minorities, are the groups that homeownership eludes the most.I mention these because a semi-related story in today's Seattle Times caught my attention. In the first three paragraphs it gives a strong counterpoint to these talking points we often hear repeated by those in the home sales business. (emphasis mine)
Homeowners are motivated to stay abreast of local issues to protect their investment.
In turn, involvement in community quality-of-life issues helps prevent crime, improve childhood education and support neighborhood upkeep.
- NAR, Homeownership Talking Points
On the 40th floor of a Seattle skyscraper, in a nondescript hearing room, a young Queen Anne couple sat on one side of a long table. On the other side sat their opponents — lawyers defending a city permit to tear down an old church next door to the couple's rented house.Surely there was a typo. That doesn't sound like renters at all.
On this particular day, the Queen Anne couple, Tyler Crone and Jorge Barón, looked far less like the working parents of a 3-year-old daughter and 15-month-old son and more like who they also happen to be: Yale-educated attorneys, one with a master's in public health, both on a mission. There the couple sat, confident, attired in suits, with briefcases of exhibits — and armed with witnesses who pounded home a single, emotional message: Don't poison our children with a toxic cloud of lead dust.
Bill Merkle, a real-estate broker involved in the deal to develop the church property, watched the spectacle with frustration, having never before seen such formidable neighborhood resistance to a demolition.
Or maybe it's time to rethink the view that renters are somehow inherently unfortunate, lazy, ignorant, and/or stupid.
(Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times, 05.17.2007)