Thursday, April 7, 2016

Castle Ruins

The City of Dallas has a problem with rental homes.
"Several of the occupied properties do not have running water, at times there has been open sewage, much of the wood subflooring in the properties is rotten, and makeshift supports seem to be all that are preventing two houses from collapsing into each other," [Dallas's first assistant city attorney Chris] Bowers said via email.
There's so much about this Robert Wilonsky story that could and should be talked about. How individuals find themselves living like this. How a society as rich as ours ends up letting the poor live like this. Where, if we condemn and demolish these homes, the tenants are supposed to go. As one tenant who has been homeless before says, his house "is better than nothing." But, this being a Richardson blog and all, I'm drawn to talk about an issue that's been papered over here at home.

The City of Richardson used to have a rental registration and inspection program. I say "used to" not because it's gone away. I say "used to" because it was watered down a few years ago so that's it toothless today. How do I know it's toothless? Because I'm no longer reading landlords complain about the tyranny of government expecting them to provide habitable places for people to live. The landlords successfully blocked the city's inspectors. The city backed down.

So, one thing that probably deserves discussion in Richardson is what, if anything, will keep Richardson from having in future the problem Dallas faces today? It's not Richardson's landlords willingly accepting an inspection program. It's not Richardson city government resisting the landlords' effort to emasculate a tough inspection program. Neither of those is in place today. Maybe it's nothing.

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