Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

You Don't Have to Care About the Ones Without the Money

Last night (Tuesday, June 21), I attended the regular bimonthly Hempstead Village Board of Trustees meeting. In the public hearing portion of the meeting, discussion arose concerning the parking lot next to (not the ones behind) Village Hall, which was deeded to the developer for the upcoming Hempstead Revitalization (Don Monti). Monti paid nothing for the lot. Currently the village is still using it and drawing revenue from whoever parks in it, and also the village is expending $244,000 to repair the lot. Meanwhile, because the lot is Monti's, the village is able to get an insurance liability of only $50,000 if someone is injured owing to poor maintenance or ice or whatever, rather than the $500,000 liability that the village had to guarantee before.
      These finances are confusing. Village residents have had many angry conversations about the whole scenario.
     Meanwhile, I realized why I have a deep underlying dread of the revitalization effort: in my heart, I believe that the many expensive residential buildings that Monti plans to install here will have no Hempstead villagers in them. The new residential buildings will become enclosed spaces that exclude the modest-income, black or brown people that mostly populate Hempstead. Me, too; I'm white, but not positioned to pay $2,800 monthly for a studio apartment!
     This sort of scenario has played out many times over the years. Upper-income (mostly white) people discover that formerly upper-income spaces are now upper-upper-income and no longer affordable. The upper-income people need mmore space. Where do they find it? Among moderate-income and lower-income people. However, developers smell these situations as they arise. The developers propmptly raise the rents to attract the upper-income people. The lower-income people have to move or stay concentrated in rings around the upper-income, exclusive areas.
     The revitalization might help Hempstead in an overall way by bringing money into the village. It won't help in a particular way: our particular school district issues, our crime, our poverty. Those problems don't have to be cared about (as political thinking goes) until after the people with money have been cared about. Then the people with money can caringly donate funds that help a little bit with immediate needs and do nothing to resolve the long-term problems, which mostly have to do with suppressing labor wages and selling cruddy merchandise to people who feel they can't afford any better.
     It is likely that our happiness has to be found apart from the issue of who has money. This is where God has broken through, over and over, and created heavenly spaces that don't bother with money.

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