« Squeezing into a Studio Apartment | Main | Apartments and condos for the long haul »

Anti-family group seeks to exclude children from communities

There is an underground movement to restrict the number of families with children that can live in your neighborhood. This movement urges preferential treatment of singles, unmarried cohabitants, gays, age-restricted communities, and other non-traditional families. This organization is extremely powerful, and includes high ranking officials. They have tremendous power over the economic and physical conditions of your life.

Do you think I’m referring to gays? No—gay people are actually trying to create families through marriages and adoptions. Is it some jihadist organization seeking to undermine the foundations of American society? Nope.

It’s your local town council or plan commission. And, in fact, they are responding to the passionate opinion of American citizens in opposition to funding schools. The enemy is “us.”

In much of the United States, property taxes are used to pay for education. Further, in many areas, that funding mechanism is ultra-local: the school district itself, or perhaps the town, or county is the taxing district. The result: in order to keep property taxes low in the immediate area, officials use the tools at their disposal to discourage development of “family” housing, especially the affordable kind.

Apartment housing for families concentrates the most children on the least area. The common wisdom, then, is that the people paying the least taxes are requiring the most services. No public official seeking re-election would espouse the virtue of having children in the community. At least in the context of taxation and development, children are seen as an expensive burden to society.

The result is that, despite our capitalist leanings, the shape of our towns and the location of populations is driven not by the free market, but by which local government has the best planners and attorneys to manipulate housing. Wealthy suburbs manage family housing carefully, and balance it against revenue-generating businesses. Thus, they have good schools and little affordable housing. Poorer or larger families end up in the more egalitarian city, or the less regulated rural exurb. (Sidebar: this encourages longer commutes for everyone.)

In a recent memo regarding a new apartment development, the city planner asked my client “to determine the worst and best case in terms of number of children generated.” Number of children generated. The shape of our cities, the availability of affordable housing, the availability of appropriate housing: they are all driven by this fear of growing school systems and increasing taxes.

Across the pond in “socialist,” and “irreligious” Europe, birth rates are low, and an influx of immigrants are altering the historic cultural landscape. Further, forward-looking demographers realize that they need future workers and taxpayers. The response: families with children are paid subsidies to offset the financial challenges of family. In some cases, women are literally paid a “pro-natal” bonus, or a monthly paycheck to be a stay-at-home mom. They are treated as a valued national resource. France, in particular, has taken extreme measures to encourage childbirth and make family life easier.

Americans worship the “family,” even though nuclear families make up less than 25% of our current population. We pay lip service to public education, and espouse its importance in a democratic society. In reality, though, we don’t like children because they’re expensive. Unless they’re our own.

v1.0, Copyright 2009 Jeremy Fretts

Jeremy Fretts is an architect at Niles Bolton Associates, where he designs multi-family housing.

Further reading:

Moms in Europe

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.