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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Man tries to keep Habitat out of neigborhood

Habitat for Humanity is planning to build several houses in a Baytown neighborhood, and the situation doesn't sit well with one local resident:
In eight years, an empty lot in Stewart Heights in Baytown will look dramatically different. It will be replaced by several Habitat for Humanity homes. The people who move in to those homes will have to put it what's called 'sweat equity' – helping to build the homes hands on. But they may not get a very warm welcome from their neighbors. Gary Mason is reaching out to his neighbors, collecting signatures against a Habitat for Humanity project. "What we're doing is, we're going around to see if we can get people to sign," Mason explained. "What we're afraid's gonna happen is, it's gonna diminish the property value of your house. We're afraid that the type of people it's going to attract, they might sell drugs or stuff."
I can understand his point, in theory. No one wants to live next to something that diminishes property values. But that's not the case in Baytown:
Most Habitat for Humanity homes that have been built in Baytown are valued at about $70,000. That matches home values in this neighborhood.
Secondly, the guy doesn't seem to mind what currently occupies the site:
All that sits on the lot right now is some rusted playground equipment and trash.
Third, who is this guy going to give his petition to? It's not mentioned in the story. It doesn't appear to me as if he's thought this all the way through. But most importantly, we have private property rights. If this guy wants to restrict the use of a lot in his neighborhood, he's free to buy it and build whatever he'd like. Pass the hat and get the neighbors to buy the property together.

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