Is it time for Dayton to rethink rooming houses?

Right now, I’d venture that Dayton has an ample supply of affordable homes. Right now, the economy is tanking and people can’t get credit. Out of work, under-employed, trying to get by.

When this country was going through its industrial boom at the turn of the twentieth century, immigrants and rural Americans flocked to the city centers, where there were jobs, and quickly- there was a housing shortage. Rooming houses were often the solution. Sharing a bathroom, kitchen and common area, with a furnished private bedroom was an accepted practice. Young single people, would rent week-to-week or month-to-month to follow jobs, opportunities and their dreams- without having to tie themselves to a lease, the inter-dependency of a “housemate” situation. Moving from city to city wasn’t as difficult.

Come to think of it, I lived that way when I was in the army. My possessions all fit in a footlocker, a duffel bag and one suitcase.

Somehow, our society has twisted to a material world- where ownership of things; houses, cars, furniture, kitchen gadgets, TVs and all the other things that supposedly are required to be “established” and a full-time, card-carrying part of “modern society” have become more important than what’s in our heads and in our hearts.

To become “homeless” is to be a drop-out from civilization- when in fact, civilization may just need some reality-field adjustments. Not all of us need or want a MacMansion in suburbia with 1.7 children and 2 cars in a 2.5-car attached garage. Maybe the person with no mortgage and no moving truck required, is really living the true American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness- and the rest of us are just tied to paying the man for the privilege of property ownership?

Rooming houses, the regulated and inspected type, aren’t that much different from hotels that rent by the week or month, they just don’t have corporate branding attached. We find no problem with an “extended stay hotel”- but a rooming house is considered one step above a drug den.

Maybe as a strategy to bringing people back to Dayton and spark urban revitalization, we need to look at bringing back the rooming house as an accepted form of residential housing. Tough times, require some new looks at old ideas.

This post is dedicated to F. B. who better make it out of the hospital.

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