One duplex, two sides. Both sides rented by single mothers with two children. One single mother works full time. One single mother works part time and goes to school part time. One single mother pays her rent from her income. One single mother’s rent is paid for one year by a social agency. One single mother lives alone with her two children. One single mother allows her unemployed, pot-smoking boyfriend to move in. One single mother works twelve hour shifts and is generally gone fourteen hours at a time. One single mother no longer works or goes to school and has another baby with the boyfriend. One single mother assures that her children are always properly supervised. One single mother has Children’s Services called because her children are left home alone or are unsupervised while outside and often in the street. One single mother has visits by the police and arrests made out of her home and one single mother does not.
One single mother trims her lawn, plants flowers, flies the American flag.
One single mother has weeds growing in front of the house, has broken the glass storm door and blinds in windows are broken and hanging.
One single mother allows pot smoking in her home which permeates the heating system in the other side subjecting the other single mother and her children to second hand marijuana smoke. One single mother worries that if her blood were tested whether she would have inhaled enough second-hand smoke to test positive for THC.
One single mother babysits her sister’s children making five children under the age of seven in the 800 square foot duplex. One single mother allows her children to run up and down the stairs, banging and screaming at all hours of the day and night. One single mother respects the fact that the walls are thin and most things can be easily heard on the other side.
So which side is which? If you guess the side on the left is occupied by the working mother who pays her rent, you would be correct. But I bet you were hoping that the right side would be occupied by the mother who outwardly is doing all the right things, thereby negating the stereotype of people who receive assistance. This is unfortunate because the single mother who has been afforded the opportunity to live rent free takes no pride in the appearance of her home or how her actions affect her adjoining neighbor or the rest of the neighborhood. Actions such as these perpetuate the stereotype that people receiving assistance are lazy and irresponsible. It is actions such as these which make communities rally to prevent any low income housing in their neighborhoods. It is actions such as these which make prospective landlords refuse to participate in programs which can help the less fortunate, law abiding, upstanding citizens who may just need a helping hand. Individuals described above hurt not only themselves, their children and their neighbors, but also every other person who honestly needs assistance. Will that landlord ever allow someone like that single mother to rent from him again? I wouldn’t bet on it.
I first wrote this post last year, but I couldn’t decide whether or not to publish it. It all sounds so unchristianlike. But between the time I wrote this and all of us in the neighborhood were being subjected to almost daily drama which finally resulted in the eviction of the single mother on the right, and now, the right side duplex has been rehabbed and new renters moved in. What a difference. As an added bonus for the new renters (who, incidentally, paid for all the landscaping and mulch themselves) a water spigot was found buried in all the overgrowth in the front. Bonus!