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Autopsy of a Town (from a reluctant participant in "White Flight")

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posted on May, 18 2016 @ 08:25 PM
Since I was born (back in the mid-70's) I've lived in different parts of the same suburban town. Although my family was poor and lived in a small garden apartment and didn't own a home like the vast majority of families in the area, it was still essentially a safe, quiet neighborhood.

My wife and I have come a long way and we are finally purchasing our first home (assuming nothing crazy happens as closing nears). As excited as I am about it, I have to admit that I also feel a bit of sadness that we are moving several towns away. In my younger years I'd dreamt about purchasing a house in my childhood town and raising my own family here. Unfortunately, with a very heavy heart I have to say that the town I grew up in is no more. I am fully aware that all places change over time. Sometimes for the better but in this case, for the worse. I've been spending some time pondering this lately. How did the old town die and give way to this new place? From speaking with many people (some who still live here and some who've since moved on), here is the autopsy....

Where it started: Schools
My town is the first town beyond the City's county limit. The next town (technically part of the City) is "rough" (to put it mildly). What happened over the years is that people that do not live here started to use addresses of friends or family within this town to send their kids to this town's better schools. For the school's part, they did very little to vet the quickly and exponentially growing number of students. I'm not sure if this was simply being apathetic or intentionally looking the other way on the various district levels (since more students = more funding).

The problem is that the students coming from the other, rougher neighborhood didn't suddenly become model students (save for a few that I'm sure took advantage of the opportunity in front of them). To the contrary, overall the test scores fell and continue to fall year after year and as (or more) importantly, the schools became less and less safe. All schools have some skirmishes in the yard or a student that pulls a prank that goes a bit too far, but "back in the day" there were NEVER weapons found on students (to point to one example).

The mid-point 1: Schools and Taxes
In this part of the country, property taxes are some of the highest in the nation. A tremendous amount of taxes are designated for schools. There has never been a point where my wife and I considered sending our son to public schools. However, for many/most people that are looking to purchase a home one of the first questions they ask is, "How's the school district?" Since the schools in this neighborhood have declined in virtually all measurable ways, many/most families living here decided it was time to move on. Why pay astronomical taxes for schools that suck? I don't blame them.

The mid-point 2: Real Estate and Taxes
As the school districts fell, so did real estate values. Or, to put it more accurately, the values remained stagnant and far behind the rising values in other towns in the immediate counties. As people who used single family houses for a single family moved away, the homes were purchased by people who started converting basements and attics into illegal apartments. To be completely candid, my next door neighbor has at least a dozen people living in a single family home.

The problems with the aforementioned situation is two-fold:

Schools: As if the influx of students from the beginning of this post wasn't enough, the schools are also getting swamped by an ever increasing number of students.

Taxes: Putting the very legitimate safety issue of unlicensed contracting aside, the problem with multiple families squeezing into a single family home is that the property taxes being collected are substantially less than what they should be. I'll put it this way, the property taxes in this area are, on average, about $1,000 per month for a single family house. If three families are living in one house, $1,000 in taxes are collected while if they weren't breaking laws and living independently, $3,000 per month would be collected. (Keep in mind, as previously mentioned the schools are taking on X-percent more of students each year and people are not paying their fair share).

The above also only serve to keep property values down and make the community as a whole less desirable to those who are looking for a place to live.

The Beginning of the End: Taxes and Maintenance
As I've detailed above, the overall picture is that the people that live here now take far more than they contribute when compared to the previous people that had lived here. I think the town's public pool is a perfect way to demonstrate this point.

This town has a wonderful pool facility that is intended to be used only by those who live in the town. It's X-dollars for an individual and X2-dollars for a family. This system had worked remarkably well for decades because it appeared that the usage of the pool and the money that was brought in was in perfect balance with the cost to maintain the facility. Unfortunately, for the past decade the equation hasn't worked because the same people who have multiple families living illegally under one roof realized that since they have the same address they can pay one X2-dollar amount for ALL of them. The results have been devastating. Leaving the overcrowding problem aside, although I witness the staff's tremendous efforts, there just isn't enough money to hire enough people to keep up with maintenance. The place is starting to fall apart because of this and it breaks my heart to see it happen.

I simply mentioned the pool facility but the same cause-&-effect are taking place in virtually all parts of the towns infrastructure, from the parks to the town's "main street" which used to be a nice place to take a stroll on a sunny afternoon.

The End of the End: Crime
As one might expect, taking all of the above into account, crime has been and I expect will continue to rise. Like all suburbs, there have always been cars or bicycles stolen here or there. It's different now. "Back in the day," if someone was mugged on the side streets, outside of their home or while walking their dog, it was a HUGE deal. Now? The local news reports almost weekly about someone getting mugged and having their phone or wallet stolen (often in broad daylight).

Lessons Learned and Final Thoughts:
The main thing I've learned is that it's important that everyone pay attention to their neighborhood. In the town where we are moving I plan on attending far more town hall meetings than I have in the past (which amounted to maybe one or two per year when there was a specific issue I wanted to learn about or bring up). Although we elected people to run our town, I feel partially responsible that I wasn't more vigilant in holding their feet to the fire, as the saying goes.

Note: Feel free to call me a racist or a bigot or anything else. I work in an incredibly diverse city and I have friends and coworker-friends from all sorts of backgrounds (including a wife that hails from South America) so I know who I am. I don't care about a persons color... I only care whether or not they are a responsible citizen.

Also, unless someone is paying my (soon) mortgage and taxes or providing for my family's security, I couldn't care less about what unfounded insults are thrown at me.

posted on May, 18 2016 @ 08:47 PM
If it helps, my towns racial demographics:

48% white
48% hispanic
4% black/asian/other

And we have trash living in our town, too. Like you mention, it ain't race. Its just that in any population of people, there will be some trash.

As for muggings, move to a concealed carry state and get your license. Texas is known as The Friendly State for a reason. And it ain't because we are just more polite by nature.

posted on May, 18 2016 @ 08:54 PM
No, you're not a racist. Other people LOVE to use that term to pretend they aren't themselves. It's tragic. I moved into a quite good neighborhood because the elementary school was four blocks away. My kids could easily walk to school and home. I choose the house in part because of this. Then the city decided that "we" needed to integrate, so my kindergartener was placed on a bus for an hour each way so she could be in an "inner city" school and even out all this terrible racial prejudice.

So I moved. I moved to a school district that was top-rated in the state. My kids received a good education, and I achieved my goal.

I see NO REASON why we should take the brunt of "righting the wrongs" by placing our children in jeopardy by exposing them to drugs, brutality, gangs, and a decayed society of entitlement. Why not just throw them in a tank full of sharks instead? It would be more humane.

I really wish our culture embodied the Martin Luther King, Jr. ideal of everyone getting along. That would be wonderful. But I'm not going to sacrifice my kids to do that. And I'm sorry that there are good people who do not have the choice to get out. But you need to provide for your family and do the best you can for them. And if that means you have to bail, DO IT! Take the criticism form the clueless who don't even understand what is going on amd tell them to go to hell.

posted on May, 18 2016 @ 09:24 PM
a reply to: eluryh22

You shouldn't feel bad about it. Do what's right for you and yours.
My kids go to private school for a reason.

posted on May, 18 2016 @ 09:29 PM
Maybe I'm misunderstanding but the property tax on a single family unit is 1000 a month USD?
Where I live we all pay 5 to 7 hundred a year for 3 to 5 bedroom houses with big yards. We worry about "the projects" encroaching on us, the school, the crime, the property value etc.

I'm picturing you in a nice condo on a nice island in the Caribe and the neighbors are sub-letting.

posted on May, 18 2016 @ 09:49 PM
No, I get what you're saying. It's not that the people around you look like you. You simply want them to share your values to a enough of a degree that everyone respects everyone else enough that the community is maintained to a respectable standard. This shouldn't have to happen by force of decree but by unspoken agreement that comes through shared values. We all want a safe place to live with good schools.

Once too many come in who want all of the benefits of that without taking any of the responsibility for it themselves, the balance tips and the place falls apart.

If we're not careful, it will happen on a national scale.

posted on May, 18 2016 @ 10:36 PM
a reply to: eluryh22

I feel for you but I watched the City of Detroit slowly crash and burn. My neighborhood slowly decayed and my family left in 1988. My former neighborhood now has all the Charm of a carpet bombed area. Literally where there used to be 100's of houses, there are now maybe 2 dozen. On my block of 24 houses, there are 4 and two of those are burnt out.

Parts of Detroit are coming back but there really is nothing to come back to in my old neighborhood.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 01:31 AM
My hometown grew, grew, and grew some more. Along with it came the bad parts, housing coming down to make way for more lanes on a once less crowded street, crime, gangs, more. It's not that it wasn't a popular place to move to and from(when you experience the downsides) or not that it wasn't growing but eventually it hit a peak by the year 2000.

After that many left when the jobs became scare because they had moved there because of employment. Now it seems to cycle back and forth, between population loss and growth, ever so many years now.

I was sad to leave in a scene that the place brought a lot to the table before the bigger issues. Actually the place was one of the most multi cultural(if not the top areas) you can live in the US. I found it very interesting getting to learn about different cultures first hand having a variety of friends from different cultures and places. Not every has the opportunity to grow up in that environment
I relocated(partly I did want to moved to the "mountains" anyway) to get away from the crime that affected my family personally and to be away from the overcrowding.

Unfortunately you will learn, with crime for example, you can barely get away from it. Sure more to rural areas, with less immigrants(or what ever ones issues may be about immigrants or race), but you gain another problem that has to do with methamphetamine and currently the ever growing heroin problems with that comes the crime, the gangs and murders.

Overcrowding, if that's an issue, happens when you're in a small city area with lots of people or a small city where lots of people come to shop from outside areas.

Land/property taxes, if you're worried about that, be out of the city, it's the only way to have them more affordable.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:00 AM

originally posted by: bigfatfurrytexan
If it helps, my towns racial demographics:

48% white
48% hispanic
4% black/asian/other

And we have trash living in our town, too. Like you mention, it ain't race. Its just that in any population of people, there will be some trash.

As for muggings, move to a concealed carry state and get your license. Texas is known as The Friendly State for a reason. And it ain't because we are just more polite by nature.

I can handle a certain amount of trash. The problem here is that the trash grew like mold and replaced the non-trash elements.

As for moving to another state:

1) We're not quite ready to give up on our life-long dream of raising our family in the general vicinity of where we had hoped.

2) Although we haven't been there yet, when we speak about moving to another state one day, Texas ALWAYS makes the short list.

Side Note: We live in one of the more liberal states.... NOBODY gets a carry permit here (even people who, I believe, have a legitimate need for one... such as those who deal in large sums of cash or diamonds, etc).

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:02 AM
a reply to: schuyler

Then the city decided that "we" needed to integrate, so my kindergartener was placed on a bus for an hour each way so she could be in an "inner city" school and even out all this terrible racial prejudice.

That is absolutely, positively, dreadful. The worst part is, from everything I've seen and heard over the past several years, this horror story doesn't surprise me in the least.

So I moved. I moved to a school district that was top-rated in the state. My kids received a good education, and I achieved my goal.

Not that you need me to tell you this... but... GREAT JOB and you've helped your kids in ways that they will never fully understand.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:14 AM
a reply to: JohnthePhilistine

I'm picturing you in a nice condo on a nice island in the Caribe and the neighbors are sub-letting.

Oh how I wish you were right and we were living in a "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" world.
Unfortunately, it's true. In this part of the country the property taxes on a single family detached house is, on average, $12,000 per year. So whatever you earn, and after the state and feds take their cut, take what you are left with and wipe out $1,000 per month.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:18 AM
a reply to: ketsuko

I'm picturing you in a nice condo on a nice island in the Caribe and the neighbors are sub-letting.

Our son is only 4 years old. I worry about this often. I worry about what this place will be like in another couple of decades when he will be trying to start his adult life.

The prospects literally cause me to lose sleep at times.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 08:54 AM
a reply to: eluryh22

Same thing has been happening all over the US.

Now, in Texas, we're seeing he penultimate expression of "white flight" as facilitated by the ability to work from home via the internet...........people are fleeing to the small towns 100's of miles from any major metro area. And, the businesses are moving out as well.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 09:19 AM
a reply to: eluryh22

Take care of your kids first. You only get one shot to raise them, so be sure you have no regrets.
It sounds like you live in NY, or NJ. It might make you smile to know that where I live a house payment with principal, interest, insurance, and taxes for a nice 4 bedroom 3 bath house in a nice neighborhood is about $1100 a month. You do have to shop for good schools, but luckily, we have them where I live. (outside of city limits)

Good luck with the new house, it's a wonderful/frightening experience. Have some savings set aside for emergencies, and don't let little things go, they fester and become bigger things that bite you in the bum later.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 11:37 AM
Sounds a lot like Detroit ...

When the thugs started giving my woman a hard time walking from the car to the house I decided it was time to leave the city. Moved to an inner ring suburb and experienced everything you have too. Finally moved far enough out, and away from public transportation that I'm once again in a city similar to the one I grew up in. Once slumlords start buying rentals in a neighborhood, you should take the cue and start looking for better places to raise your family

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 01:09 PM
I grew up in North Baton Rouge, 70805 zip code. In my day, it was a blue collar area, salt of the earth working families. It was a great place to grow up. In the summer, my mother kicked us out of the house after breakfast and didn't let us in until supper time. We ate a sandwich on the steps of the house. We went where we wanted. We wandered the neighborhood. There was never a worry about anything happening to us.

My grandfather was a rabbit hunter. He kept several shotguns in an unlocked closet on his unlocked back porch my entire childhood. The shells were on a shelf just above them. Everyone who knew the family knew they were there. There was never any concern about them being stolen. Nobody was ever hurt with them. They were never touched outside of hunting trips.

None of the people I knew there live there anymore. I only drive through my old neighborhood once in a while and in daylight. My brother held out there as long as he could. He bought the house we grew up in from our mother. He always said, "This is my neighborhood." But he finally gave us and moved away.

This is what 70805 is now ...

edit on 2016 5 19 by incoserv because: I could

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 02:11 PM
No, and I know people scream racism, but that's not what it is.

We send our son to private school, and there are plenty of Asian, black and a few Hispanic students there. I am completely fine with them. I know they share our values and their parents care about both their discipline and their education. Not to mention there isn't racism in the parents, some of them have adopted children of other racial/ethnic backgrounds to their own. So not only are the children of different races from parents of different races, but parents of one race have adopted children of other races.

But people will point and yell racism anyhow because we all want our kids to have a good education and to not have to deal with the problems that come with children who do not know how to behave and are parented by parents who either don't know how to parent or who could care less.

And our story parallels yours in that you never thought you would have to flee your neighborhood and we never thought we would have to flee the public school system.
edit on 19-5-2016 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 02:30 PM

originally posted by: ketsuko

But people will point and yell racism anyhow

Let them point and let them yell. People, especially parents, have more important responsibilities than trying to save a community from itself and its own suicidal tendencies. Far better to have a few assholes call you a racist and whine about it while moving your family to a safe, comfortable environment than appease them by staying in the hellhole they made.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 02:50 PM
a reply to: burdman30ott6

But that's the point, it's much easier to point and yell than it is to admit there is a problem. And it isn't our fault the problem exists, and it certainly isn't our job to sacrifice our kids' futures to try to make anyone else feel better about it.

There is stuff out there like this Slate article. It argues that both the OP and myself are bad people for taking the situation into our own hands and trying to be good parents instead of sacrificing our kids on the alter of some perceived greater good.

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

Allison Benedikt

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)

But instead of just admitting like at least Allison Benedikt here had the guts to, they will just point and scream and continue to find ways to import the problem to where we all go.

posted on May, 19 2016 @ 03:48 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

"Common good" a buzz word phrase for "I'm not receiving enough freebies, so you need to give until you hurt more."

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