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Fri Jun 17, 2022, 09:44 AM

Townhouse Trash - The New Underclass?

Since we moved to a western Twin Cities suburb, we subscribed to the local weekly newspaper. In it, yesterday, I learned that the city we live in has put a moratorium on rental licenses. Apparently, too many homes were being bought up to become rental units, rather than the homeowner-occupied homes that are more desirable. Clearly, the idea is to control the number of "riff-raff" folks living here.

However, the city makes an exception for townhomes. Those are OK to rent out, it seems. A city official stated, "I haven't seen a single house here sold for under $300,000 in over a year." He's wrong. I know of three townhomes like ours that sold last year in the 200s. See, he doesn't consider townhomes to be real houses. It's OK to rent them out, too, so the "riff-raff" will have someplace to live, after all. They don't count. There are dozens of small developments in this city full of quad home townhomes. Most were built in the 70s and 80s, like the one we bought.

Meanwhile, this suburb, like all Twin Cities suburbs is becoming more diverse. I don't think the city's politicians like that very much. Nope. They're trying to keep "those people" in specific areas, it seems. Townhouse Trash. That's what we are.

I wonder if similar stuff is going on in other suburbs...

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Reply Townhouse Trash - The New Underclass? (Original post)
MineralMan Jun 17 OP
Archae Jun 17 #1
MineralMan Jun 17 #2
Archae Jun 17 #3
LonePirate Jun 17 #4
MineralMan Jun 17 #5
Sympthsical Jun 17 #6
Johnny2X2X Jun 17 #7

Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 09:52 AM

1. Many different buildings have been renovated into multi-resident apartments.

My own apartment originally was two hotel rooms.

(3 neighbors)

The old Enzo gel factory here in Sheboygan was converted to multiple apartments.

Originally the 10th and Superior rooming building was a geriatric hospital, while the 918 Huron apartments was a hospital.

In the areas I've mentioned, a lot of affordable apartments and some expensive ones have been built.

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Response to Archae (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 09:58 AM

2. Not many buildings like that in my suburban city. It was a podunk

town until the 1960s. There are apartment buildings here, of course, designed to be rentals.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 10:10 AM

3. No doubt.

One particular insult used against renters is "Section 8."

(Referring to the government's section 8 rental assistance for poor people)

Sure there have been Section 8 people who could be described as lousy tenants, and there has been as many non-section 8 people who were bad tenants.

In my building, there have been good and bad tenants.
Twice now one apartment here had to be completely renovated after slobs moved out.
Last one never cleaned his place, and he lived there for 18 years and was a heavy smoker and alcoholic.

It used to be that poor "riff raff" were in apartment buildings called "Projects."

In Chicago, one notorious public housing building was the Cabrini Green complex.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 10:13 AM

4. Devil's advocate here: Could they be trying to make more homes available for buyers to live in?

By restricting the rental licenses, they reduce the chance some person or company is buying a house just to rent it out instead of living in it. That would prevent some people from joining the market as buyers thus allowing actual live-in buyers more opportunities to buy a house.

Iím not saying this is what they are doing; but it could be. Sure, they may be trying to reduce the likelihood of 10-15 people sharing the same house by renting it from a buyer. Neighborhoods and housing decisions by local governments donít always sort into the usual left vs. right dichotomy so itís hard to say whatís going on.

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Response to LonePirate (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 10:37 AM

5. That could be, of course.

I don't know. I do know, though, that they put townhome developments into a different category. Maybe we're today's trailer parks...

So, who lives in the 32 units in the development where I live? I don't know everyone, but it's a mix of younger families and retirees. It's not very diverse. There's one black family and one Hmong family who own homes here. That's it. The majority of owners are older people who have moved into the development in the past five years or so. Like my wife and I, it's a downsizing sort of thing. Our previous home was a 1950s rambler in a single family home neighborhood in St. Paul, MN. Our decision to move was based on my not wanting to do yard and snow removal work any longer and my wife's desire to live closer to her many friends in the area. Both places are very close in value, frankly. That was a wash for us.

All of the townhomes in this development are 2 bedroom, 2 bath split-level homes, with upper level living space and family room lower levels. Two-car garages are tucked under the bedroom space. They're all pretty much identical, except that some have upper level balcony decks. The others have walk-out lower levels with a patio and fireplaces. Until this summer, all had T1-11 plywood siding. The HOA fees paid for new vinyl siding, along with new fascia, soffits, gutters, etc. that were installed over the past month. That was at no cost to us, and was part of our decision to buy in this development. Total living space is about 1600 sq. ft. So, they're small, but adequate for a couple or small family. Some of the units have a bedroom in the lower level, as well.

Our HOA contract does not allow owners to rent their units, so we have no rental tenants in this small development. Four of the 32 units have sold within the past year, including ours.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 02:48 PM

6. House rentals can change the nature of a neighborhood

Particularly when homes are functionally cut up into apartments.

I live in a quiet residential area of suburban side streets and single family homes. There is a house a few blocks over in my neighborhood. It originally had four bedrooms, but the three car garage was cut up and renovated into three rooms. Then an in-law unit was built in what is a very sizable backyard. The owners, who do not live there, rent out everything.

Guess what traffic and parking look like on that street.

Of course the neighbors are irate as hell. Mix in other rentals and Air BnB, and more and more residents agitate for councils or HOAs to do something. It is also giving cause for the investor class to buy up homes and make more by renting them out piecemeal, thus shrinking the pool of available houses and driving prices to heights unobtainable by the average middle class family. In large cities and surrounding suburbs, it's having a noticeable effect.

Townhouses have always been a mixture of rentals and owners. Even then, the level of ownership varies due to the fact they're usually parts of a complex where the buildings and property are maintained by a third party. So it's not exactly like with like.

Giving the investor class free reign is not doing favors to working people in this country. With housing prices being what they are, I expect more of this kind of action.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Fri Jun 17, 2022, 02:59 PM

7. It's a tough thing

ON the one hand, we need affordable housing. On the other hand, I appreciate my neighborhood isn't zoned for rentals.

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