Published in the August 30, 2018, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
End-of-summer reading list
by Amy Reinholds
As Labor Day approaches, did you finish all your summer reading? Or are you looking for some fall books to expand your mind as school starts? I’ve updated an affordable-housing-related reading list from last summer with some new books, some that I’ve read, and some that I hope to read. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the email address listed at the end of the column. I’d love to hear your recommendations.
- The Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It, by Richard Reeves. I first heard the author interviewed on the On Point NPR podcast, and this summer, I had a chance to read his book. It’s so common for Americans to view the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in our country as the main problem, but Reeves presents statistics that show that it’s actually the richest 20 percent of American society that is splitting society into the upper middle class and everyone else. The upper middle class – families with professional jobs – see society as merit-based, but they use every tool available to preserve the economic future of their own children, often at the expense of other people’s children. Reeves, who reveals he is a member of the upper middle class, discusses exclusionary zoning, college savings plans and admissions policies, and other local and federal policies that help the upper middle class hoard the American Dream for themselves and their own families.
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund. I learned that Bill Gates is giving away copies of this book to all 2018 college graduates. He said the book describes ten instincts that keep us from seeing the world factfully, and then gives practical advice on how to overcome our biases. The instincts include fear (paying more attention to what scares us), size (being impressed by standalone numbers without comparison and context), and gap (expecting extreme differences, when most people fall somewhere in between). I’m looking forward to reading this book and learning what I can from it, even if I learn that I’m wrong.
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein. According to Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, there is a clear history of local, state, and federal housing policies mandating housing segregation based on race. The book shows that actions of the Federal Housing Administration, established in 1934, increased segregation, and it discusses the lasting effects of those actions on American society today.
You can read my list from last summer here: lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/summer-reading-list.
This column is a weekly commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder about affordable housing after the September 2013 flood disaster in Lyons. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com. The Town of Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes, and a 2015 proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. Some subsidized affordable rentals have been proposed in the past year. But so far, the only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on land the non-profit purchased at the end of 2016. To volunteer or donate, go to www.stvrainhabitat.org. For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers posted on my blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.