Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Chatter: Habitat housing in Avondale

We're told again and again that over-concentration is a bad thing.

Too much Section 8. Too many social service agencies. Too many condos, too few apartments.

Too many new homes built to give lower-income people a leg up?

These days, the neighborhood of Avondale seems to be the epicenter of construction because of an abundance of cheap, vacant residential lots.

Just this year, Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity has:

* Begun the construction of two new houses at 211 and 213 Northern Avenue in June, and plans a third for the adjacent lot at 215 Northern
* Broken ground for two new houses at 560 and 564 Maple Avenue in April
* Started construction of a third house along the 3500 block of Haven Street
* Purchased land at 537 and 555 Hale Avenue and 3450-3458 Hallwood Place

The construction of new housing has some obvious positives, including the addition of a new, fully-invested homeowner to a community that could definitely use more.

Other positives include the forging of community partnerships during construction, the removal of people from the poverty cycle, and the elimination of blighted vacant lots that require constant City maintenance.

However, who among us cannot spot a Habitat house from a mile away?

Will these homes retain or gain value, at least in the short term until they take on a "lived in" look?

And is not such a large concentration of these homes an obvious signal to possible investors that a street or neighborhood is distressed, and therefore not worth the investment?

Which is it? Habitat homes in Avondale: A good deed done, or a destructive practice?