There are few things that sadden me as much as seeing a house and yard in a sad state of disrepair. Imagine investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, enduring the nail-biting of the mortgage process, the upheaval of the moving process – only to allow your house and yard to deteriorate. Is it a lack of respect for your own property? A lack of responsibility? A lack of money? I just don’t know.
While out walking Miss Poops-a-Lot, we encountered a couple homes in an otherwise nice area of town that were in ridiculously bad states of repair. And we both were crestfallen. We cannot afford our own home, so when we see someone who has allowed (or maybe been forced by finances) their property to become a junkyard or a cesspool or a blight, it makes us sad. Now, we aren’t talking about someone not mowing their lawn, or having some peeling paint. These were full on areas of sadness. Yards that were full of bald dirt patches, houses with cracked windows and yards that were full of junk – and that’s a charitable description.
I do know there are millions of people who would love to own their own homes but cannot get a mortgage, or refuse to take the poison mortgages that precipitated the housing bust. They would care for their lawns and gardens, maintain the places they live, and take part in the community instead of insulating themselves behind a wall of debris and disrepair.
Whatever happened to the dream of owning a home? In the 50s and 60s, home ownership was an accessible reality for a wide majority of the middle class. Now, it seems like a hallucinatory dream for most. Plus, the costs of maintenance have become prohibitive. Frankly, who can afford to own a home? Some decide to rent so that the financial emergencies of a broken furnace or burst pipes are not theirs alone to shoulder. So, it is especially egregious when I hear of a landlord who allows their property to fall into disrepair. They are exploiting their renters, pure and simple.
Why do we sometimes show such disdain for our surroundings? Thankfully, there is a movement in gardening and renovation and building that utilizes local materials, natural landscaping and a deep respect for the micro-ecosystem in each local. I hope things keep moving in that direction so that the pride of ownership becomes real and immediate and we can reconnect with our world.