Letter: Low-income rentals build community

Suburban leaders and residents are at a crossroads. Suburban leaders and residents are at a crossroads. Photo Credit: Bloomberg

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Columnist Michael Dobie's "Loaded language for suburban wars" [Opinion, June 1] was a refreshing breath of common sense.

I advocate for low-income rental housing in Levittown and environs notwithstanding the unpopularity of that stance among people who, metaphorically, are still living in the Eisenhower era. However, they've forgotten the details of the past and lost touch with the realities of the present.

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They've forgotten that Levittown started as low-income rental housing for homecoming GIs, that it was opposed by many in nearby communities, and that obsolete parts of the Town of Hempstead building code were jettisoned to allow for William Levitt's mass-produced, slab-type construction. They likewise don't appreciate the fact that low-income people today include university-educated professionals whose careers have been outsourced and downsized out of existence. I know a few engineers, geologists and computer technicians who work in minimum-wage jobs.

Some would say, as Dobie points out, that renters don't have the same stake in the community as homeowners. Well, I rent my Levittown house. The actual owner, not even a Levittown native, lives out of state. I've lived in the area since 1968, am active in my church, am president of the local historical society, and am a member of the PTA and several local civic organizations. I work nearby. Actual home ownership is simply not a financial option for me at present.

I'd rather see poor families renting houses than see those houses boarded up. Communities are made by people, not real estate listings.

Paul Manton, Levittown

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