Perception or misperception?

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 12:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 12:29 p.m. CDT

For some, the words “public housing” often conjures visions of crowded, unkept properties of freeloading residents. Neighbors cry “not in my backyard” to city councils and effectively prevent such housing. Others of us tell our children to avoid them at every turn.

I am ashamed to say that I shared some of those perceptions. Many people often have similar perceptions of such public agencies. We outweigh social benefit with fiscal “wasted” cost. However, I recently visited “public housing” and see a few things differently. I visited both sites of the Bureau County Housing Authority … you know what I am talking about … “those high rises in Princeton and Spring Valley.”

I was amazed at the condition of both properties. They were clean, organized and well maintained. Everything had a place, and everything was in its place. As a construction professional, I found the workmanship extraordinary. As a taxpayer, I found well utilized resources. As a friend of a potential tenant, I found the site to be heaven sent!

Just as a suit doesn’t make the person, a building doesn’t make an organization. I found welcoming friendly faces at every turn. The staff (at both sites) was helpful, informative and most importantly compassionate. Yes, that “C” word that so many of us forget from time to time. They did not look down on my youthful friend. They knew every resident’s name as we toured by them. Certainly these professionals care about what they do and care about who they help. Jess, Janet, Tammy, Laurie and Cherie to name a few and of course the support team of fine maintenance personnel.  

Now as to the residents, I saw a variety of faces. Faces of elderly and of youth … and every age between. Faces of color and many faces without. Faces that were proud of their homes and faces momentarily relieved of economic strife … but faces that still wonder what is next. Faces that are mandated to help at area not-for-profits that serve others. Most importantly, faces that are regularly seen in our businesses, storefronts, churches and community events. Surprisingly, faces commonly found in all our neighborhoods.

Now, while I pray that none of us ever fall victim to health or economic conditions that would “qualify” you to become a resident, I would encourage you to visit one of these fine sites. Watch for open house events or set an appointment. But most importantly, like me, find that your perceptions are really misperceptions.

David Mallery

Hennepin

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