Thursday, October 28, 2010

Habitat for Stupidity

Everyone’s seen those warm and fuzzy pictures of President Carter wielding a hammer.  Sounds like a great idea.  People put sweat equity into their homes, volunteers help, and everyone goes home glowing.  My experience wasn’t quite like that.

The X family lived in a rent-subsidized apartment for a number of years. The missus was very nasty, with an entitlement mentality, and they were scamming the system. She left the building the same time each morning, wearing white scrubs, yet insisted she wasn’t working.  Their rent was something like $150 a month, utilities included, yet for six months they gave me every excuse and promise to pay, but still were so far behind on their ridiculously low rent that I started eviction proceedings. 

I guess, in some ways, I was scamming the system myself, because the only reason I’d kept them this long was because they were “warm bodies”.  Placeholders.  They cost us less, even if they didn’t pay their rent, than it would’ve with a vacant apartment, because the HUD subsidy covered the bulk of the rent.  But it couldn’t continue forever.  It was just such a slap in the face on so many levels.

When they finally got the eviction notice, Mrs. X haughtily informed me that they were moving shortly anyway.  They were selected for a Habitat house, and would be out within the month. 

I couldn’t believe my ears!  I called the local Habitat group who confirmed their selection.  I ranted.  “You’re giving them a low-interest mortgage?  Didn’t anyone think to call the landlord to see if they even pay their rent?  I thought applicants were supposed to be living in substandard housing.  My buildings are definitely not substandard, and they’re not crowded into an apartment too small for their family!  How did these people meet Habitat’s criteria?”

They hemmed and hawed, but the fact was that Habitat, being new in town, didn’t get many applicants for that first house, so the X family moved into a new house – maybe (and hopefully) the most undeserving family ever to get one.

The final indignity for me was cutting my losses while waiting for their house to be completed.  I postponed the eviction, because it would’ve cost me more money, and the same time, to go to court as to wait it out.  And they sure weren't out within a month, as the Missus predicted.  By the time they actually moved, and I got a money judgment, it was into the thousands of dollars. 

I’m still waiting to collect on my judgment, and, ironically, I probably never will.  People usually will clear up their credit when they want to do something big, like, say, buy a house.  Obviously that won't be necessary.

And I never donate to Habitat.  I  already gave at the office.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! I played catch-up in one sitting, reading entries from Oct. 20th.
    One sentence response ...
    "Ya gotta write a book. Seriously!"