Little pink houses...

There's a little pink house next to mine and it never seems to hold its occupants very long.

Today, if I understand things correctly, there'll be a new family moving in and that should make five groups of folk who have tried to make that house a home in the nearly fifteen years we've lived in our neighborhood. Two families fled for the suburbs, one collapsed into foreclosure in a sea of dysfunction and drugs, the last couldn't make the rent after the father of her baby became allergic to child support. Now a new family will give it a try.

Up and down our street the block has been fairly stable and the upkeep crucial to maintaining a quality neighborhood has by and large been done. But this little pink house has been our crazy uncle, the guy who drinks too much at family reunions that we put up with in embarrassed silence. I've lost count of the times when we needed to shovel the walk or cut the grass or kill weeds and clean doggy stuff in self defense. It was all I could do to resist going over with a hedge clippers while the place was empty and taking out the tree growing in the front hedge and the six foot tall weed by the door.

Perhaps this sounds petty but the truth is that when you live in the city you don't have to be fancy but you do have to be clean. We live close together and our defense against the bad guys coming in and making us a block of crack houses is that united front of clipped lawns, pruned hedges, painted buildings, and shoveled walks that says "We pay attention here and you had better just move on." Poverty doesn't cause crime, crime causes poverty and if a block can be compromised the people holding fast for the good will leave and when they do the neighborhood collapses into house after house of people there only because they have no other choice.

So I'm hoping for the best. I'm hoping that this new family, however they're constructed, will be vigilant and responsible and even though they're just renters will still have some pride in the place they live. You gotta stay positive, but just in case it looks like things are going south I'll keep my hedge trimmer handy and the phone book open to the office of the city housing inspector.

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