Austin's Relevance up for Sale

RECEIVED Sun., May 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Opportunists are snatching up affordable, historic, single-family dwellings faster than renters can sign another lease. This situation often occurs while the renter is still residing in the property. The destruction of affordable housing and substitution with over-the-top urbanism has renters facing unexpected challenges in their quest to find equitable housing. Neighborhoods are being re-created one investment property at a time – by the dozens. Historic homes that haven’t yet been demolished are aggressively being surrounded with obnoxious, mass produced, urban filing cabinets. This "growth" is desecrating the landscape, causing property taxes to rise, and is successfully wiping out the history and culture of Capital City, Texas. City leaders are to blame. They’ve placed Austin’s significant relevance up for sale. They continue to entice out-of-state profiteers and misuse taxpayer dollars. Realistically, these opportunists are short-timers who will soon dump their gargantuan investment properties leaving behind abandoned condos, urban dwellings, and McMansions, inevitably making Austin an urban ghetto. Renters, even when faced with skyrocketing rent and the elimination of housing, continue to pay hefty deposits, tolerate price gouging, and succumb to countless fees by varying service providers and landlords. It is in the city’s best interest to acknowledge renters' considerable role in Austin’s culture and landscape by providing rent control, utility competition, and a renters association. Provisions for the common renter who exists between elitism and poverty would be a welcome relief during these tumultuous times.
Colette Michalec
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