by architek, Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 02:06:03 PM EDT
Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article "The Profit in Decay"
about how many landlords in Washinton DC are getting around laws restricting condominium conversions and rent increases by refusing to maintain buildings, and using intimidation tactics to drive tenants out, leaving many buildings first partially occupied, and eventually vacant.
When they finally succeed in driving their tenants away, emptying the buildings of tenants, they can convert the buildings to condominiums, often making huge profits.
Obviously, this makes many people homeless and further reduces the rapidly declining amount of affordable housing in cities.
The law says that if they want to convert a building to condos, they must pay relocation assistance, but despite these restrictions on condo conversions and rent stabilization laws - if they succeed in driving tenants out, they do not need to pay relocation assistance to anyone. City governments are overloaded with other problems and rarely stand in the way.
Many tenants tough it out for months or years, often without heat or hot water, because there is often nowhere else they can even remotely afford in the area.
This problem is not unique to Washington DC, its happening everywhere and middle and low income urban dwellers are being targeted for these removals. Neighborhoods are rapidy changing, as their community members are forced to leave, and cities are losing their diverse character.
Often the people who move in to these buildings have no idea that the previous tenants were in essence, 'economically cleansed' in this way.
Studies have shown that many displaced poor people have nowhere to go. Many older or disabled people, many who had been living on fixed incomes end up in homeless shelters or die.