Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When Loud Neighbors Move In...

...Depending on where you live, your best option is likely to move out. That's what I'm planning on doing as my roommate and I are faced with another round of Obliviously Bad Neighbors (OBN) who recently moved into the upstairs portion of the house, above our basement apartment. OBNs generally love to shuffle and stomp around un-carpeted floors, blaring stereos for no good reason except that it's a routine they're used to. These OBNs make it worse than the previous two tenants upstairs (which includes the landlord and his family, who removed themselves to Connectdadots little more than a year ago) because they are genuinely nice people; but for some reason they can't seem to hold onto the concept of traveling sound.

What also makes it bad is that the landlord, only interested in staving off foreclosure proceedings, misrepresented the make-up of the family; when I asked if it was a family who was moving in, he said, "No, it's not a family, not at all." Three days later, he introduces me to a family of five, later to be six including a precocious tot who, like the landlord's own daughter, loves to run. That they are Section 8 recipients only matters in that it ensures they'll likely stay until the house is actually foreclosed on, something I'm willing to bet the landlord did not inform them of (among other things wrong with the house) when they moved in. They've already discovered the leaky pipes in the kitchen, but wait until flood season!

Now I don't have a problem with Section 8 recipients per se; one of my ex-girlfriends lived in a remote townhouse complex while receiving Section 8, and I used to wish I had it myself. In New York City, it's impossible to get Section 8 unless you're a battered wife with children and low to no income. My roommate and I endured homelessness at least twice, and not only could we not get Section 8, but we couldn't qualify for social services of any type because I had a job. Granted, it was a job that could barely cover the suddenly exorbitant rent (Thanks, Mayor Bloomberg) , but if you have any type of job, you "gets none" from NYC.

That said, while cheaters do exist, there has been plenty of ignorant or resentful blather about recipients being nothing more than welfare queens (the present federal regime has cut funding for HUD programs in an effort to eliminate housing subsidy programs altogether) and stereotyping recipients in general when it comes to finding a decent place to live. However, I argue that it's the landlords and management companies that are the abusers of the program; more often than not in my contact with buildings that house Section 8 families, the complaint made most often is that they are not properly maintained and are often neglected. For quite a few landlords, it's easier to pocket the money and creep back to the hills than to pay on the mortgage or invest said funds into repairing or renovating the building (unless, of course, the repairs or renovations are in anticipation of gentrification, which is another story unfolding before us).

In that regard, the question of import is, "where do the current residents go after they've been priced, taxed and redlined out of their own homes and businesses?" The answer: "Hahaha, who cares? That's not our problem!" Or better yet, "Let's not talk about that, let's talk about how misinformed and un-trusting you are and how service and temp jobs will take you out of your miserable poverty!"

But I digress. My point about Section 8's main problem being abuse by greedy landlords and developers is exclusive of the perception that my landlord is duping some recipients who inadvertently fit some of the less-evil stereotypes of Section 8 recipients. After briefly flirting with the idea of soundproofing the ceiling (only to discover that the ceiling is made of sheet metal, practically making the apartment a studio-sized snare drum), my roommate and I are actively planning on moving out altogether. Maybe the landlord had this in mind; we've been tenants for three-plus years and we've had our ups and downs. When we had a set of papers handed to us by a processor that outlined foreclosure proceedings, the landlord's response made us less-than confident: "Don't worry about it, this is nothing." No, it's not nothing. After trying to sell the house for nearly two years, you're being foreclosed on. Nothing? Hee-hee, wait until the house is gone, then you'll know what nothing means. So we started saving a contingency fund, preparing for the inevitable.

That the new tenants upstairs, who according to the landlord is not a family, are wholly unaware of these proceedings, makes it all the worse. If I recall, the last tenants who lived upstairs (between the landlord with family and this new non-family) broke out without a word four months into the lease. I kinda feel bad for them, since having spoken with them on a couple of occasions, I find them to be if not genuinely nice, then well-meaning. That the young adults in the household loudly converse in ghetto lingo, including casual and liberal use of the "n-word" is disappointing, and serves to hasten our exit. With this bad impression in mind, I must state that the most important consideration of living in NYC is the quality of living, and my new neighbors, nice and well-meaning as they may be, exhibit less-than quality traits of behavior, which I find unacceptable in neighbors of any and all statures (especially ones who live above us in a rickety house).

Easier that we leave quietly and ask forgiveness for not wanting to live next to people who blare their stereos even after you asked them not to, and carry on loud conversations starting with and including in Tourettes-like fashion the "n-word", not to mention the thief next door who stole items we stored in the garage while cleaning (funny, after confronting the suspected thief who denied everything, those items reappeared outside our door!) This doesn't bode well for warm weather, and I have past experience to back up my contentions. So it goes, and so do we. I'll keep you posted on our progress, but in case you're interested, we're looking for a 1-2 bedroom apartment with utilities included. A cottage would be especially nice, given that it means we don't have to share vibrating walls with anyone. Having a somewhat decent income has brightened our prospects at least.

Pray on it for us, okay? >;)

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