Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Grrrl in the 'hood

I haven't written about my neighborhood yet, but today I'm breaking my (relative) silence today because a) I think that a small minority of my neighbors actually has an internet connection, and b) the chance that one of them would find my blog and c) be irritated to read my thoughts about them as a collective whole is pretty remote. So here we go.

My neighborhood is cute, in a shabby-genteel, working class kind of way. I bought my house three years ago for what would now be considered a song. Housing prices have risen steadily since then, and Booby and I are hoping that the trend continues, especially since we are about to embark on some pretty large-scale improvements (a bathroom in the basement, for starters) to make the place more saleable (and to make more money off of the sale).

The concern we have at the moment is our neighbors. We have some good ones (they snowblow our sidewalk when there's an eighteen inch snowfall, and sweep up the seemingly-constant trails of trash that float down the street from our curb, just to be nice), and some bad ones (the trash-leavers, the people whose dog sits chained on a 3 foot lead in their scrap of a yard all day, whose holiday decorations are STILL up and who we always hear screaming at their listless, dull-eyed kids). The problem of late is the bad neighbors, of course.

We have a few Section 8 houses in my hood. In theory, this is a good thing. Low-income families should be given a chance to own homes. The problem is that the families in the HUD housing (which is up the street from me, perhaps a quarter of a block) seem not to care or have any pride in their homes. Trash is everywhere, and blows down the street into every other yard on the block. Windows are broken and go unfixed for months. Beer cans and liquor bottles (not to mention dogshit) litter the sidewalks. The kids are running around breaking glass in the alleys and playing knock knock, zoom zoom (and lighting cherry bombs near each other's faces, in one particularly memorable incident this summer). I guess it's not too bad compared to some of the things that go on in the average city (there doesn't seem to be any drug abuse or burglary, and I've never felt unsafe walking around at night), but the point, for me, is that I left the city proper to get away from this sort of shit. My elderly next-door neighbor went into a nursing home some months ago, and the report is that once she makes the move to assisted living, her house will be put up for sale. I can't help but worry that it, too, will become a Section 8 house like the others slightly up the road. Moving is starting to seem pretty attractive with that possibility as an incentive, and I had always planned on this being a starter home. I'd miss my friendly, helpful neighbors, but I would wither and die if I had contsant trash piles in my breezeway.

But perhaps there's hope. This article discusses plans to do a little sweeping out of some of the more down-at-heel neighborhoods in the township (although I have to wonder why the mayor thinks that having trash blowing around creates a criminal environment), while this blogger discusses in no uncertain terms his feelings about Section 8. I don't know if I'm quite as vehement as he is (he has another post that gets a little too racial for me; Section 8 is not a color issue in my experience, and even if it were, so what?), but then again, I don't live in his part of town. I looked at houses in his part of town, which were often beautiful (I'm talking leaded glass doors, original hardwood flooring, and huge yards, in some cases), but just too damn close to what is well-known as the criminal element that lingers around the 69th Street Terminal.

What have you done when you've had less than stellar neighbors?


At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Jess said...

I think I live in your neighborhood, except in Boston. We have a lot of nice neighbors. We also have some that make me beyond furious with their cavalier attitude towards garbage and parking. I don't know what to do about it except rant and rave in private, and shoot them icy glares of shivery, prolonged death every time I see them. My anger--it is largely impotent.
And yeah, I mostly just want to move.

At 6:13 PM, Blogger wordgirl said...

The house we bought before we married was in just such a neighborhood, though ours had little hope of regentrification. Our worst neighbors weren't non-whites or even the former Hell's Angel/hospital nurse who pushed his kids in the stroller on nice days. The problems were mainly transient whites with no education and little concern for neighborhood beautification. Drug houses on adjacent streets were lived-in by white people. The Hispanic families nearby were lovely and family-oriented. Hey...if the lawn was mowed and there was no trash out front I didn't care if the house was painted pink or purple.

We knew our stay there was temporary, so we tried to be friendly (except with the asshat whose dog fought his way into our garage and killed our cat) with everyone. Your situation sounds different. A house worth saving in a neighborhood that could go either way.

Glad you're back, though. We missed you.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I have had a set of the worst neighbors on the planet and NEED to blog about them. That would make you feel much better.

At 9:59 PM, Anonymous TB said...

Oh, bad neighbors... it sucks, but there is not much to be done except wait it out and hope they move, or move yourselves.

My youngest sister in on Section 8 because of her learning diability. I think for the most part she is fairly neat and quiet, but I know that the areas where she generally lives are filled with slobby obnoxious types. I don't know how I would deal with that.
Good luck with the bathroom add on and I hope you make a ton on the resale. It will make all the crappy neighbors worth it.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Franny Ward said...

"while this blogger discusses in no uncertain terms her feelings about Section 8. I don't know if I'm quite as vehement as she is (she has another post that gets a little too racial for me; Section 8 is not a color issue in my experience, and even if it were, so what?"

Errr, I'm a guy.. "I'm on the right", Anyway, nice to see another Delco blogger with concerns about the community.

Cheers :)

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Delco - I have switched the pronouns; sorry for the error!

Thanks for stopping by.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Tink said...

I live in a cookie cutter neighborhood where most of the houses are bought and then rented out. The people who bought the house next to me were absolutely awful people. They called the cops on me when my 8lb rat terrier puppy got out and started barking at them. They said he was vicious and needed to be "removed."

So I got even. Everytime they tried to show their house to some renter I would blare my music as loud as I could, encourage the dogs to bark, and walk around the front yard pretending to cuss someone out on the phone. It took them 6 months to find a renter.

I don't recommend doing that.

But it was fun.

And it's probably going to come back around when I'm trying to sell my house.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Mignon said...

We lived in a similar neighborhood in Portland, which notoriously has upper-middleclass homes mixed with 60 year-old machine shops and ugly 70's apartment complexes. Anyway, I really liked the eclectic feel of the place, and I didn't care about the ugliness of some of the renovations, but the chip on the shoulder of the lower-income families put a damper on any sort of neighborhood unity. That made me sad, as if I was part of the problem and not doing anything to make it better.

Now we're in an all-white, all upper-middleclass development, and it's totally stifling and boring. I just can't be satisfied.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in UD as well. Consider yourself lucky. My next door neighbors are not only noisy and annoying, they're involved in drugs and have been in and out of prison.

At the moment only 2 people live there, but there have been as many as 6 adults and 8 kids under the age of 12 living there at the same time. This in a 3 bedroom row home. I only wish I could sell my house.

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous rhonda said...

Wow, I heard about the things in UD. It used to be a nice town when I was growing up. My Gram and Aunt lived on Ruskin lane. Such a shame :(

At 8:53 PM, Blogger IzzyMom said...

We live in a similar type of neighborhood but it's quickly going more "upscale" as the low-end yuppies get priced out of more prestigious neighborhoods. We have mostly had okay neighbors until the house next door sold to investors. Now we have renters. They're okay most of the time but they love them some bumpin' bass and for that alone, I hate their guts. I can feel their shitty music vibrating through MY house all the time. My solution? Move! But we really can't afford it because the taxes here are so high. We spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to get them to move since we can't lol.

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Half of you are cowards, talking about your neighbors secertly behind thier backs, IF you have something to say, Tell them!
I feel so sad for all the people who are crying about little shit.
I live in New york city and if you think you have problems come to my neck of the woods. I know half of you know no other life than the one's you now live, but the things you guys talk about are kind of petty. If you want to make real complaints come on over to the low income neighborhoods in New York City.

And To the young lady who talked about her neighbors, stating they might not have computers, not all low income people lack access to the internet.


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