College housing the Dayton way?

It’s not often that I quote myself in posts, but for this one, it seems appropriate- I wrote this back in January. I dedicated to F.B.- who didn’t make it out of the hospital, R.I.P. You are missed. Here is the excerpt:

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.

via Is it time for Dayton to rethink rooming houses?.

And here is another reason: Sinclair is having record enrollment. I heard 30K plus. And, not a single bit of “on campus” housing. Forcing students to drive- making parking a pain. Using lots of fossil fuels.

Aren’t these the potential young hipsters that upDayton wants to keep? Hmmm.

Now, let’s talk about UD. Remember the place they call “the ghetto”- well, drive through and it doesn’t look anything like a ghetto anymore. In fact, it looks like a really nice urban neighborhood with lots of young people walking the streets. But, it wasn’t always so.

The secret, is UD bought all the houses from a Ghetto lord who was making a lot of money. You see, renting a house by the month, or even the semester is only OK. You might get $600-$800 month in rent. Call a semester three months and you are at $1,800 to $2,400. But, divide it up and rent per person- and you ask $500 per semester- cram 2 people per room- in a three bedroom house- and you now have $9000 in rent. Ka-Ching!

Now, if you are just Ghetto lord, that’s bad. But if you are UD- it’s good.

And maybe, we should consider having Sinclair adopt a neighborhood and fill it full of students? Start with Five Oaks and Dayton View. Run shuttles back and forth. Fix up those big old homes and rent them out like hotels.

What- you say Sinclair shouldn’t be in the housing business? How right you are. Let’s let the private sector do it. WSU is having dorms built left and right by private business. How do we get this to happen? Take some of those boarded up homes and vacant lots and package them. Give a tax abatement equal to the dollars invested in the rehab. Maybe even offer students a tuition break for living in these rehabbed houses and helping repopulate the neighborhood- and getting involved in civic service in the neighborhoods.

Could we start seeing a decrease in boarded up vacant homes? Do you have a better idea?

How many master plans?

It was a question I had when I first got to Wright State and wanted to build a hockey rink (yes, I started the Raider Hockey Club as a freshman back in 1983-84). Was there a rink on the Wright State master plan? Turns out, on plan 2 of the 4 there was, but WSU had already come up with two more plans.

It was funny, looking through how the plans changed. In the first two, Wright State was on a grid, everything connected logically, and the focus was on buildings and people instead of cars and parking. A lot could be learned from that, as we go through yet another charette (charade) on what to do with Dayton, this time, being headed by local retired doctor and insurance magnate Mike Ervin.

I attended the last two of these planning sessions- the first in the funky c{space last week, and the final one at Sinclair, building 12. Very different crowds, very different suggestions.

My contributions (I spoke twice after watching George Hummel get away with it)- were to revisit building and zoning codes and re-examine rooming houses as an option for downtown living and to consider turning Dayton Public Schools over to Sinclair Community College as a rebranding, rebuilding and restructuring- and to extend Five Rivers Metroparks to being Five Rivers Metroparks Recreation and Sports (to include youth sports leagues etc.).

Other notable ideas included the use of the existing dark fiber installed to run our traffic lights as a way to create a publicly owned Internet Service Provider and a focus on getting the small things right- like repairing the tile on the flyover sculpture. This crowd was very anti-hockey arena on Dave Hall Plaza- as if that park were sacred.

UniGov was also mentioned, by Gerry Hauer, who had sworn to himself not to say anything- but he couldn’t help himself.

The real question is how much different was this from the CitiPlan 20/20 process that I took part in back in the late nineties? Maybe it’s not a failure of the ideas at all, but the failure of leadership?

Not to worry- there was an announcement as the meeting wound down by Larry Ealy about how he was running for Mayor- and how when he was in charge, we would be in charge. Hoo boy! When I asked for his signature on my petition he was asking about how the election process worked- that’s always a good sign. (I may be able to post video of his little speech later).

Some people asked me afterward, what was the real agenda of this plan and this man (Ervin)? Is this public input just window dressing for yet another deal worked out in the back rooms? I don’t have the answer, since I’m not invited into those sessions.

I’ve heard rumors that this is part of a plan to expand the role and responsibility of the Downtown Dayton Partnership- the organization that raises taxes on property owners to help them fill their rapidly emptying buildings. Time will tell.

In the meantime, what was wrong with the old plan?

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.