Some of the folks in the Ballantyne area have successfully gotten the Charlotte Housing Authority to scale back its plans for mixed-income housing in their precious nouveau riche Holy Land. For details on how the CHA plans were changed after a crowd of Richie Riches raised a stink about them, see the daily paper’s report. For my view, read on.
The wealthy showing disdain for the poor is something that makes me want to yell out, "Who in the hell do you people think you are?" The fact that opposition to mixed-income housing in tony areas is always couched in terms of “lowered property values” and (my favorite) a concern for low-income folks having access to their jobs via public transportation, is doubly exasperating. But then, I guess since you can’t go to a public meeting these days and simply say, “I’m scared of poor people — especially poor black people — and I want them to be kept away from me,” you have to find a roundabout, coded way to voice your fears and prejudices.
I particularly liked the guy in the daily’s letters section today who, give him credit, was forthright: "Hey, just give us our little enclave, our one little neck of the woods where we can have a little more sense of security." And just as a reminder that Ballantynean voices should wield more clout, he reminds us, “We didn't get here cheaply.” Sometimes people reveal more than they realize, and this guy’s a perfect example, laying out, for all to see, his (and ostensibly, many of his neighbors’) view of themselves as somehow beleaguered and in need of “enclaves.” Somewhere where their wealth can give them “a little more sense of security.” In other words, let us go on living in our made-up world where we’re immune from society’s troubles; don’t make us have to face the fact that some fellow human beings have been let down, or worse, trampled, by an economic system that we were lucky enough to be able to take advantage of.
Here’s another idea for that part of the city: Ditch the new CHA housing, turn the entire Ballantyne area into a giant gated community (don’t be afraid to use razor wire, people), and erect a huge sign over the arched gateway, proudly proclaiming, “Money Can’t Buy Class.” Apparently, it can't buy simple human decency, either.