The Common Good

Being Poor is a Lot of Work

Until very recently, I had no idea how hard it is for some of our friends just to find somewhere to lay themselves down to sleep at night. I knew that inner-city families moved around a lot, but I didn't realize how much heartache and humiliation goes before and after most of those moves, both for the families and for the neighborhoods they come and go from in search of better space.


Part of the problem is low incomes, of course, which leave almost everyone around here one minor setback way from missing rent. But beyond that, there are often rats and roaches and bedbugs to contend with, along with those normal, everyday conflicts with neighbors that, in this environment, can quickly become unacceptably dangerous. There are broken pipes and broken heaters and, as often as not, broken promises from landlords who live in a very different world.


Of course, the broken promises go both ways. Every day we see neighbors say and do things that would rattle almost any property owner; and we have learned the hard way not to immediately take any story of mistreatment at face value. Still, there is no denying that lots of money

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