Tuesday, March 21, 2017
One of the bloggers at Hot Air comments
on a proposal by the city of Portland, Oregon, to induce home
owners to let homeless people live on their property. The inducement
comes in the form of a free-standing mother-in-law apartment placed on
their property by the city. The property owner can lease the "tiny
home" after five years of allowing the city to send homeless people to
live in it.
While this sounds, quite frankly, pretty creepy on the surface, I suppose there's nothing immediately disqualifying about the approach. The government isn't forcing anyone to put one of these makeshift shelters in their yard, but rather seeking volunteers who are willing to do so. And in theory, it's conceivable that willing homeowners might get something out of the bargain. If the tiny house is still livable after five years of being occupied by a stream of homeless persons, the landowner could then legally rent it out to paying customers for supplemental income.Agreed. This is creepy, but two things immediately strike me as not just "disqualifying about the approach," but outrageous: (1) A substantial part of the money funding this has been looted from private individuals, who should be free to decide whether or not to spend their own money on such an endeavor; and (2) What recourse might one have if a next-door neighbor decided to do this, and the occupants happen to be criminals who don't politely confine their activities to a single yard? Even if all the normal remedies to such a situation remain, the city is foisting people of questionable character on any neighborhood with a resident who will stoop to anything to get a "free" outbuilding, or wants to pat himself on the back for being such a great humanitarian -- as if the absence of such a program was stopping him from helping the homeless in the first place. And again, it is doing this at the expense of any victims involved.
But how likely is that? Looking at the conditions in the tent cities, not only in Portland but at homeless gatherings around the nation, this is not generally a clientele one would expect to take good care of the space and work to keep property values up. I'm sure there may be exceptions to the rule but the trends seem undeniable. And this doesn't even begin to address the question of having unknown persons who frequently may have a history of "interactions with the police" tramping around your property at all hours of the night and day. It's interesting that the director of this project describes the locations for these tiny houses as "underutilized space" in the interview. I have some underutilized space in my backyard as well. I call it my backyard and I don't generally open it up for strangers.