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Bulldozer, Please: MoCo Kills Hillmead House

By a 5-4 vote, the Montgomery Council Council Tuesday decided to demolish a five-bedroom house in the Hillmead neighborhood of Bethesda rather than let a homeless family live there. The county spent $2.5 million to buy the house and its 1.3 acres of property to extend an adjacent public park.

The vote appears to end a lengthy and bitter dispute that pitted neighbor against neighbor and split the county's politicians on the thorny issue of whether to use county-owned houses in parks to provide relief to some of the thousands of families sitting on Montgomery's waiting list for housing assistance.

After more than 90 minutes of passionate debate, council members decided that allowing a homeless family to move into the house Phyllis Piotrow sold to the county would make it too difficult to expand recreational uses of the park next door.

The council room was packed with both Hillmead residents appalled that the county would turn a park expansion into housing for the homeless as well as residents who believe the site can easily accommodate both a house and park uses. Council members quoted from civil rights studies, mapped out the preponderance of subsidized housing in less affluent parts of the county, and appealed to one another's consciences.

My Sunday column on the house was the subject of much criticism and debate, as some Hillmead residents argued that the piece presented the neighborhood battle too simplistically, portraying some residents as bigots opposed to having poor or homeless people in their wealthy area. My email on the column has been voluminous, running about 60-40 against my conclusion that the Hillmead site would be a splendid place for the county to provide some relief for a carefully-screened homeless family now living in a taxpayer-paid motel room.

Some residents were especially perturbed that I quoted a Rockville resident who had written to council members protesting the idea of housing a homeless family in Hillmead. The man, Winston Dean, wrote that "I simply cannot believe that anyone with an IQ above that of a retarded chicken would seriously consider putting a welfare brood sow and her 13 kids in a $2.5 million mansion paid for by the taxpayers of this county."

Hillmead resident Michele LeBar wrote in response that "I find it reprehensible that The Washington Post would publish such a quote, THAT DOES NOT REPRESENT OUR COMMUNITY, spoken by someone who does not LIVE in our community.How could the Washington Post publish such a DISGUSTING quote. This is a revolting, vulgar and sick quote from someone who does not even live here."

Quite true, but it is reactions like that--some more diplomatic, some not--that drove some council members to argue for using the Bethesda house, even if it would make only the slightest difference in the county's housing crunch.

"I read with sadness and horror some of the ugliest comments about poor people I have ever seen," council member Valerie Ervin said of what she read on the message boards right here on this blog. Ervin joined with council members George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen and president Michael Knapp in favor of keeping the house and using it for a needy family.

Council members Roger Berliner, Don Praisner, Marc Elrich, Duchy Trachtenberg and Phil Andrews voted to demolish the house. (All of the council's members are Democrats.)

The county bureaucracy seemed as divided about the issue as the elected officials. The head of the parks commission testified that there could be no expansion of park uses if a family lived in the house that dominates the flat area of the Piotrow property, while the head of the housing department testified that "There is a need for this house to be used..., a pressing need."

Council members on both sides of the issue generally agreed that the county overpaid for the property, though bureaucrats insist that the price was below market value.

Floreen, an at large member, argued that "We have a moral responsibility" to the homeless to provide any available housing. "This is what local government is all about," she said. "This is a real opportunity to use taxpayer money to achieve a multiplicity of goals. This isn't change. This is not a knockdown. There is ample room to add play areas and picnic tables."

At large member Elrich said he initially wanted to lop off a piece of the property and sell it to developers so that the receipts could be used to provide housing elsewhere for the homeless. But when the lawyers said that wouldn't be legal, Elrich decided that the site could not accommodate both park and housing uses.

Knapp, who represents Upcounty, noted that the zip code including the Hillmead area contains only 65 units of county-subsidized housing, while other, less wealthy parts of Montgomery carry the load--700 units in a zip code in Silver Spring, nearly 1200 units in a Germantown zip code.

It's only just, he argued, that a rare opportunity to address that imbalance be taken advantage of. Residents' complaints that the county's process was messy just don't carry as much weight as the essence of the issue: "Was the process great? No," he said. "Is the process ever great? Rarely."

Berliner, whose south county district includes Hillmead, led the charge against keeping the house intact. Berliner won unanimous support for his proposal to have the parks commission consider in future land purchases whether houses can be used for public purposes. (I mischaracterized this in an earlier version of this blog post.)

But Berliner successfully pushed back an effort by Floreen that would have kept the Hillmead controversy going by letting the county put a homeless family in the Priotow house for however long it takes the county to determine how to expand the Hillmead park. "This community has been through enough," Berliner said, arguing to put an end to the back and forth on the Hillmead property. "This building should be demolished immediately. Enough."

County parks and planning commission chairman Royce Hanson was unable to say when the Hillmead house will come down. "As soon as we can get to it," he replied to a question from council member Leventhal.

Leventhal, who voted "Hell no!" on the final roll call calling for demolition of the house, could barely contain his anger as he praised the Hillmead residents for their political prowess. Noting that the demolition would likely proceed ahead of many other parks projects that have waited for years for funding, Leventhal said of Hillmead, "That is one fortunate neighborhood--congratulations!"

By Marc Fisher |  June 11, 2008; 6:18 PM ET
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Comments

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Hey, Mark, maybe they can stay with you.

Posted by: Sam | June 10, 2008 7:03 PM

I love mark's not-so-subtle bias that somehow the county should do anything, including buying $2.5M houses for the homeless.

What rubbish. As for those "thousands" of people waiting for a house, if they start giving out Bethesda mansions in MontCo, don't you think those ranks would swell a bit? I'd become homeless for that deal too.

How about this... set up a work program that if you do public works (pick up trash, paint buildlings, etc), the county will subsidize your housing.

Oh wait. That would anger the unions as well as "homeless advocates". Apparently two of the most important constituents in Montgomery County.

As for Floreen, that isn't the role of local government. She should get a clue that we're overtaxed in Montgomery County precisely of these types of thoughtless, pet projects. She's exactly what's wrong with our government.

Somebody needs to get a broom in November and sweep these out-of-touch politicians from office.

Posted by: Ombudsman | June 10, 2008 7:10 PM

I was pleased with the outcome as the process truly was badly flawed and one particular councilmember's behaviors were inappopriate for an elected representative. I was also saddened by Councilman Leventhal's need to curse when issuing his vote. After all the discussion about disagreeing without being disagreeable, it was a true low point which was surpassed only by his rude sarcasm congratulating the community. My gosh, not at all how I thought elected officials were supposed to behave.

Posted by: Hillmeader | June 10, 2008 7:29 PM

Shame on you, Hillmead. As a former resident who raised my family there, I don't recognize the community I loved anymore. I guess your new found wealth and privilege have replaced the community spirit and kindness I once knew. Is the gated entrance next?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 7:36 PM

Sadly, Montgomery County and its residents lost the high ground years ago on these matters. The bar is getting lower.

Posted by: DC Native | June 10, 2008 7:41 PM

"'This community has been through enough,' Berliner said of the Hillmead residents."

Oh, yes, those poor unfortunate souls. Living where they do and all! Every day must be a struggle for them.

Bethesdans talk generous but they always act stingy when anything might disturb their personal horizons. This is all Mark really needed to post:

"Knapp, who represents Upcounty, noted that the zip code including the Hillmead area contains only 65 units of county-subsidized housing, while other, less wealthy parts of Montgomery carry the load--700 units in a zip code in Silver Spring, nearly 1200 units in a Germantown zip code."

It's a good thing I actually support providing housing for lower-income families, or I'd be hopping mad that there's so much of it in the S-Double.

Posted by: Lindemann | June 10, 2008 7:54 PM

(Note: I recognize that some individual Bethesdans actually have the courage of their convictions. Sorry if any of you read that and took it personally. But the community in general...)

Posted by: Lindemann | June 10, 2008 7:56 PM

Mark

The reason why most affordable units are upcounty -including in the upcounty part of Silver Spring Knapp cited - is that these areas were developed after the 1974 inclusionary zoning law that mandated affordable units be included in the developments. Also, the County housing authority is permitted to buy and retain 1/3 of those.

Hillmead, like most of Bethesda, was developed in the 1940s and 1950s, while Knapp's district was not developed until the 1980s. Thus the affordable units, which are overwhelmingly townhomes and condos,are upcounty. Bethesda is mostly single-family detached housing.

Despite what Knapp said, there are actually over 250 public housing units in Bethesda and hundreds of other types of very low and low-income units. HUD's Web site bears this out.

No agency - nobody - is buying units to be affordable at market prices. This may change with foreclosures, but even foreclosed houses in Bethesda are in the .5 MM range.

I wish Levanthal and Floreen used the same energy they expended here to challenge the Duncan policy of allowing developers buy out of building affordable units. They could have used the bully pulpit on ensuring that there are affordable units in luxury multifamily developments in downtown Bethesda, of which there are many new ones.

This is a complicated issue. Your weak writing didn't help advance any understanding.

Posted by: Noteworthy Omission | June 10, 2008 8:05 PM

Now if the voters will remove Leventhal from office, then victory will be complete. Enough of this political stupidity from councilmembers and media types who want this garbage in everyone's neighborhood but their own.

Congratulations to the residents of Hillmead. You have a lot of support.

Posted by: DC Resident | June 10, 2008 8:06 PM

How sad is all of this blogishness--so many of you are addressing the "process" versus the reality of this situation--helpfing others less fortunate.

Just where is the true sense of responsibility to other souls in life other than those less fortunate than ourselves.

Good luck to all of you in the next life.

Posted by: DC Native | June 10, 2008 8:32 PM

"Enough of this political stupidity from councilmembers and media types who want this garbage in everyone's neighborhood but their own."

Uh, isn't the issue rich suburbanites who want "this garbage" (your words!) in everyone's neighborhood except their own? Since when does someone's day job make their positions on use of neighborhood resources exempt from condemnation?

Posted by: Lindemann | June 10, 2008 8:35 PM

One reason I will never live in Montgomery County. Blaming this on "process"? Sure, if the process is racism. This isn't the government buying a house for the poor - it's the government having already buying a house and now spending more money to tear it down rather than allow a family to live in it.

I love the rationalizing that goes on in these comments. We all need to take a minute and ask why we're so unwilling to help others. I'll tell you that the tens of thousands of dollars Montgomery County will now spend to tear down that house could be put to good use here in DC.

Posted by: DC | June 10, 2008 8:40 PM

How sad-- I remember the days when Ms. Piotrow let everyone--including those in the Greentree Shelter--use her property (for sledding, community picnics, etc) to provide a quality time for all--regardless of their parents' means. Now, it seems that the majority of residents of Hillmead just want to protect their current and future lifestyles, and with their select group of friends. A "community park", how quaint. Too bad not all may participate in the future.

Posted by: Former Hillmead Resident | June 10, 2008 8:56 PM

Sadly, Montgomery County and its residents lost the high ground years ago on these matters. The bar is getting lower.

Posted by: DC Native | June 10, 2008 7:41 PM

High ground? As defined by who? Tell me what day it was citizens of Montgomery County ceded control of the makeup of their community (think private property) to seven people?

It astonishes me how individuals such as yourself have such little regard for the taxpayers ( the people that pay the council memebers salaries).

The reality is the families that are this community were not pleased their hard earned tax dollars were being hijacked (again) for a social engineering project. These people deserve just a little of your respect.

Posted by: Knight1977 | June 10, 2008 9:38 PM

I don't live in hillmead, I live in Rockville. And despite what the people of hillmead think I do live in your community, and if you don't agree you can kiss my ass. Giving a $2.5 million home to a homeless family is one of the more absurd proposals I've heard in the last 10 minutes in Montgomery County. Why don't we put a homeless family in the White House? Or Fallingwater? Or the Hearst Castle? Or the Gillette Castle?

The Montgomery County Council has plenty of good intentions but not enough good sense.

Posted by: Cliff | June 10, 2008 10:03 PM

why do people think it makes sense for the county to spend $2.5M+ on a property to house 1 homeless family. how many families could they house for $2.5M? i don't know the circumstances that lead this family to be homeless. i'm sure it sucks big time. they should have the opportunity to get back on their feet by being housed in a clean, safe place and the least expense to the tax payers. they dont deserve to live in a $2.5 M mansion just because there arent any other homeless people there. of course there are no other homeless families living there, its a suburban single family neighborhood which happens to have expensive homes. don't blame the people who live there for not wanting to have a family there who have no financial investment in the neighborhood. you can call it racist, but i dont seem to recall anyone mentioning the race of the potential family...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 10:10 PM

I wish this was an isolated incident. But I strongly suspect that if most residents in this county had their way, not only would there be no new affordable housing built, but every affordable housing unit that already exists would be demolished. Never mind if every McDonalds clerk, janitor, teacher, or police officer is forced to live in Frederick, Prince George's, or D.C. God forbid that the poor or working class be able to live in this utopia lest our property values go down!

Edward J. Cunningham
Rockville, MD

Posted by: Edward J. Cunningham | June 10, 2008 10:11 PM

The NIMBY's are out in force here.

Some people have the courage of convictions: you work for what you get, and if you don't work, you don't get to live wherever you like. You might even *gasp* have to move upcounty or even *double-gasp* move to a different part of the country where things are more affordable.

Sine when it is charity to force another person at the point of a gun (taxes) to take their money to help another person?

If you think your cause is a noble one, then start a charity and ask people to give. But if you think you are being king taking my money for your idea of morality, then you're leading us into a future where I don't want to go. Ever.

And I give to charity. I volunteer in my community. But this proposal is so absurd on its face that no one can seriously believe there is any merit to it. As someone said earlier.... how many people could they have helped with $2.5M? Certainly more than one family. They could have helped 10. But we don't have clear-thinking people in office. And as long as we keep these people in office, we'll get more and more ill-advised, poorly thought-out schemes that spend tremendous amounts of money for show projects with no real impact and no lasting impact. It's a ploy, a scam.

And the funny part is they think it gives them a moral high ground. Ir'a like a bad Dickens novel.

Posted by: Ombudsman | June 10, 2008 10:20 PM

The amount the County agreed to pay for the house is a separate issue from the proposal to put that original brain dead decision to constructive use. Let's keep the two issues separate; and let's also let's be clear about what we are really talking about here.

It ain't about "social engeneering", nor is it about forcing residents to accept neighbors they do not wish (despite their so-called progressive proclamations of living 'Green' and saving the planet and whatnot)to have live around the corner. Similarly, it is not about these 'connected' folks not being kept informed.

It is about the creeping manifestation of a caste system in this country that is supported by plutocratically influenced government policy. That is the real shame here. But hey, money (no matter how obtained) talks, right? All the rest walks. Merely one of he many reasons this society is going He!! in a handbasket, IMHO. b

Posted by: bldlcc | June 10, 2008 10:31 PM

What a great country. I hail from a family of 11. We needed some assistance in housing when my folks were first starting out. The housing provided was a multifamily building near all city amenities. A short walk to the grocery stores, two blocks to the subway, walking distance to the schools. The housing in question here sits miles from downtown Bethesda. A car is needed to get everywhere especially since the bus service on Bradley boulevard was cut. With gas approaching $5 a gallon is having a car something a family trying to get back on their feet can splurge for.
Yes, at one time officials had vision. My family was given housing assistance near the amenities and jobs needed to get us back on track. Now officials want to house people out in the suburbs with long treks to amenities and jobs. It kind of makes it all the more difficult to get back on track. Why were all the developers allowed to opt out of providing the affordable units in the central business districts? This fall try to vote for officials with vision.

Posted by: Bethesda Rez | June 10, 2008 10:32 PM

I note, also with interest, the conspicuous lack of the word "NIMBY" in Marc's analysis (though I see it in one or two comments), once again confirming my conviction that he has turned that word into an epithet to hurl at only his most hated enemies, of whom the residents of Montgomery County appear not to be one.

ANYway, moving on. This is very interesting. There are some unanswered questions: how far away is the nearest house? Not that that would matter so much, as I understand that the homeless family would be well screened. Also, it seems an awfully big place to give to just one family. And it doesn't really touch the larger problem, which many residents have noted. But are those same residents doing anything about that larger problem? Do they care? Is it really necessary to spend so very much on the renovation? Couldn't they just make sure it is extremely up to code, safe, and that everything's working? They don't even have to paint and all that... If they could have gotten the family or families in there for less $, it would seem not so hard to support. And just b/c people are living in the house, doesn't mean the place can't be a park too.

Posted by: DC resident | June 10, 2008 10:36 PM

Nancy Floreen and the other Pro-ICC council members are hypocrites to the highest degree, the ICC is causing many reasonable sized houses to be razed. So they just made 20 families homeless. Why is the mansion family worth more than the Derwood families?

Posted by: mas | June 10, 2008 10:45 PM

"How about this... set up a work program that if you do public works (pick up trash, paint buildlings, etc), the county will subsidize your housing."

Great idea. But it doesn't matter if it's a mansion or simply an apartment building. ANY affordable housing plan will be bitterly opposed by somebody on the assumption that anybody who lives there will raise the crime rate and lower the property values. It doesn't matter if they are honest or hard workers---if they don't make enough money, they can't live in my neighborhood, and soon "my neighborhood" will mean every inch of Montgomery County. If people do not make a stand, the working-class people Montgomery County NEEDS to pick up their garbage, police their streets, and teach their children will not be able to live in the county where they work. With gas at $4.00 a gallon, how long before they too are homeless?

Edward J. Cunningham
Rockville, MD

Posted by: Edward J. Cunningham | June 10, 2008 10:47 PM

This is nuts! I think that it is time for the good people of MoCo to exercise the rights set forth in this country's Declaration of Independence and rise up to vote out this inane succession of navel-gazing, so-called public servants constituting the County Council.

Whose decision was it to pay $2.5 million for the property in the first place? And how, pray tell, did those in a position to do so not fulfill their due diligence in communicating with the residents of the affected neighborhood (if that in fact is the case) when the intended use changed from a park expansion to an intended home for a homeless family?

Enough is enough! Political labels mean nothing! Democrat/Shameocrat. Republican/Repuglican. Vote out the jabbering, navel-gazing idiots and vote in citizen representatives committed to working to solve the problems faced by the County's long-suffering, over-taxed, hardworking residents. b

Posted by: bldlcc | June 10, 2008 11:13 PM

Yes, isn't it nice that the liberal people of Bethesda have decided to push public housing back onto the little people -- AND it works.

No neighborhood should have to suffer HOC units.

Posted by: sasha | June 10, 2008 11:20 PM

"ANY affordable housing plan will be bitterly opposed by somebody on the assumption that anybody who lives there will raise the crime rate and lower the property values"

That's not based on an assumption; it's what happens. In one community in Frederick county, homewoners have had to deal with drug dealing in their neighborhoods, drinking out of the street, vandalism, loudness, etc. because of the public housing units.

Posted by: Concerned citizen | June 10, 2008 11:24 PM

It is so sad to see how SELFISH and GREEDY people in this world have become. No matter how some try to justify the reasons for not helping someone in need... it all boils down to their own selfish wants/needs. I pray that God has mercy on us all!! What have we become?

Posted by: In Prayer | June 10, 2008 11:32 PM

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own for the children, and the children yet unborn."

Better yet to hear this line with Rod Serling's intonations. It's from the Twilight Zone episode called, 'The Monsters are Due on Maple Street' where strange and stressful happenings in the neighborhood bring out the hidden hatreds and the ugly "beast" lurking just beneath the surface of the shiny, happy neighbors.

The events in Hillmead have revealed some of my neighbors that I didn't really know to be kind people, true humanitarians. Sadly, these events have revealed many to be...well, who needs to state the obvious?

If there is anything that we can be thankful about recent events, we can be thankful that we Hillmead neighbors have a much better understanding of each other now that our facades have been cracked. We're wiser now to each other, but also sadder for the knowing.

Posted by: A Monster on Maple St. | June 10, 2008 11:35 PM

It is about the creeping manifestation of a caste system in this country that is supported by plutocratically influenced government policy. That is the real shame here. But hey, money (no matter how obtained) talks, right? All the rest walks. Merely one of he many reasons this society is going He!! in a handbasket, IMHO. b

Posted by: bldlcc | June 10, 2008 10:31 PM

you get that outta your Marxist playbook?

You need another go to move.

Posted by: Knight1977 | June 11, 2008 12:04 AM

The issue is that an entire community mobilized and was told they were getting a park expansion. One councilmember Leventhal attempted on his own to force a change that would have retained the home. The Parks and Planning Commission which is the expert in these areas was very clear that keeping the home made expansion of the park untenable. That is why many Hillmead residents opposed the Leventhal amendment -- it obliterated the very purpose of the land purchase, expansion of the park. Were both aims able to co-exist, park expansion and affordable housing, perhaps the outcome would be different. Councilmember Leventhal may fume and fulminate but the truth is that the expert on land use -- Parks and Planning -- stated in writing that retention of the home eliminated any ability for park expansion.

People can attempt to make straw men and claim this was about not wanting homeless people but one shelter is across the street from Hillmead, this was all about wanting what the County said it would provide: park expanion.

Posted by: Wow | June 11, 2008 2:04 AM

The "the thousands of families sitting on Montgomery's waiting list for housing assistance" wouldn't be on Montgomery's waiting list if Montgomery would quit putting them in hotel rooms at taxpayer expense. They would move to a place where the cost of housing is in line with their skills, such as PG County or Allegany County.


Posted by: Bubbu Mercado | June 11, 2008 7:54 AM

Many thanks to the Hillmead activists! You've given us a park we don't need and a reputation we don't want. I'll just tell people I "live near Bradley Hills Presbyterian" from now on, so I won't look like a hater.

The sad thing is that many of these people are kind and thoughtful in person, but get them near a keyboard, and you get comments like the one Marc quoted, and worse. I don't know why broadband acts like booze on some folks, it just does.

Posted by: Swansea Street | June 11, 2008 7:57 AM

Swansea Street, I know what you mean. I've also been trying to come up with some euphemisms for "Hillmead." So far, I'm blank.

Posted by: I live in Hellmead | June 11, 2008 8:27 AM

Wow. What an embarrassment for the residents of Hillmead. I grew up in Hillmead and knew the Piotrows. Her kids babysat me and gave me tennis lessons. They were nice people who would be disgusted by the blatant racism and/or classism on display. It's shocking to me how much the neighborhood seems to have changed.

Leventhal deserves respect for taking an unpopular, but correct, position. I personally cannot wait for the next Council election, so that I can vote AGAINST Elrich and Trachtenberg. Elrich, in particular, has no place in public policy. Rent control? Hmmmm...how well has that worked out nationwide? Calling arguments for housing a needy family "banal?" Such an attitude is a disgrace in a public servant.

Posted by: Lowell Place | June 11, 2008 9:03 AM

"Banal" means "commonplace". What's the problem with that?

Posted by: Bubbu Mercado | June 11, 2008 9:26 AM

"Calling arguments for housing a needy family "banal?" Such an attitude is a disgrace in a public servant."

But cursing when stating your position isn't a disgrace?

Posted by: RMH | June 11, 2008 9:32 AM

Again, no mention of the 45-family shelter on the north border of Hillmead (the Piotrow house sits on the south border).

Just a five-minute walk from the house, sits the National Center for Children and Families, which houses and supports the needs of 65 people, meaning it serves more than 5 percent of the housing supplied for the entire County.

When comparing this shelter's capacity to the land area of Montgomery County, it would serve an area of more than 25 square miles.

Why do you choose to omit this important fact?

Posted by: tennessee1224 | June 11, 2008 9:33 AM

RMH, that's the second post that refers to Leventhal's "Hell No!" as cursing. The previous one went so far as to say "gosh!".

Check out the language that his opponents used - you're seeing the edited version here.

It's far worse in the letters sent to politicians, Leventhal in particular. The man has been a model of restraint under the continued abuse.

I learned "Hell" and "Damn" from listening to my father. He also taught me to respect every human being, no matter what their color or their station in life. Who's teaching the kids in Hillmead that?

Certainly not their parents! Hope they teach it at Whitman. If they offer an AP class in decency, maybe some of these kids will take it.

Posted by: The Church Lady | June 11, 2008 11:15 AM

The translation for when someone says we have "a moral duty" to do something is "I want to use your money to do something that makes me feel morally superior!"

And I love those council members who, with no apparent technical expertise, decided the land could support both a family and a park.

Posted by: Stick | June 11, 2008 12:00 PM

There is plenty of affordable housing for people who work in Montgomery County--it's called "Frederick."

Posted by: daisy | June 11, 2008 12:40 PM

Wow
Shame on the self righteous self serving bigots in Hillmead. I know where I WONT be buying a house lest I fear they start turning on anyone who's not a well heeled WASP.

Karma will be a real dozy to some of these folks one day

Posted by: Not so shocked | June 11, 2008 12:43 PM

Those folks of Millhead are just too uppity and self-serving to even comprehend their behavior. They'll get what's coming to them, trust me on that.

Posted by: 9.5 | June 11, 2008 12:52 PM

Ms. Piotrow should have put a caveat in the sales contract, stating exactly what her property would be used for. That happened in Falls Church (I think) a few years ago, where the owner of the property sold on the condition that it was made into a playground that accommodated even disabled children.

Posted by: sparky | June 11, 2008 1:30 PM

Ms. Piotrow should have put a caveat in the sales contract, stating exactly what her property would be used for. That happened in Falls Church (I think) a few years ago, where the owner of the property sold on the condition that it was made into a playground that accommodated even disabled children.

Posted by: sparky | June 11, 2008 1:30 PM

Thank God this didn't pass. If word spread that MoCo puts up homeless families in $2.5 MM houses we would become a subject of national ridicule--and become a destination for homeless people from across the country.

Posted by: davybaby | June 11, 2008 2:18 PM

This is an excellent example of the fiscal irresponsibility of the members of the council. If their intent in purchasing this property was to provide low income housing, for $2.5 million they could have provided decent homes for no less than 8 families. But it's OUR money they are spending not their own so they don't need to use it efficiently.

Council Member Leventhal, when are you going to give MY family a $2.5 million dollar house?

Posted by: RW | June 11, 2008 3:06 PM

Anyone suggesting a homeless family should "get" a $2.5 million house is nuts. I believe in creating good jobs for everyone and I want everyone to be as wealthy as I am in spirit and in the wallet, but...

I do not believe that affordable housing is a worthwhile goal. Housing is an auction, the amount someone is willing to pay for a house is what it sells for. And there is no logical way to create and no logical argument for affordable housing. I had friends in Manhattan, they rented a rent controlled apartment from the grandson of the elderly woman whose name was still on the lease. Rent control doesn't work- history has proven that. A well-made building in a good neighborhood automatically means that someone would find a way to pay a legal resident money under the table to rent it from them. Note that elderly residents of public housing, like Frances Johnson, are getting evicted because they let their freeloading grandchildren stay there. The only way to create housing that stays entirely in the use of the lower and middle earners is to create unpleasant housing that no one else wants- either make it bad, make it ugly or make it inconvenient.

That is the economic truth backed by decades of historical data and there is no argument against this. No amount of liberal feeling can make rent control work.

When the police made DC safe again, then "ghetto" houses started selling for $300, $400, $500k and one 7-bedroom townhouse in my neighborhood sold for $1.2 million. A townhouse in what was once a drug area!

Quite simply, the local governments need to get out of the business of affordable housing and get in the business of bringing all local residents into high-earning positions. There is NOTHING that the government can do to affect housing because housing is an auction.

Posted by: DCer | June 11, 2008 3:20 PM

Hey, Hillmeade, it's OK to have housing for homeless people in less desirable/expensive places in the county but not in your little slice of Heaven?What makes you so special? How pathetic. Glad I live in Silver Spring.

Posted by: greenbrier | June 11, 2008 10:28 PM

Mr. Fisher himself caused much of the problem by including an inflammatory quote which he erroneously implied was by a member of the Hillmead community. In contrast the follow-up article by Ms. Spivack seems a pretty objective summary of the situation. If I were a Washington Post editor I'd move her up a notch.

Posted by: carton | June 12, 2008 7:29 AM

Millhead

Posted by: Millhead | June 12, 2008 12:29 PM

Oooh! The layout just changed in front of my eyes!

With the money will save, the county could buy 21,00 tents for ALL of the homeless families in Monty.

Posted by: SA | June 12, 2008 1:25 PM

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Posted by: Nancy Barness | June 24, 2008 4:33 AM

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Posted by: Nancy Barness | June 24, 2008 4:33 AM

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Posted by: Nancy Barness | June 24, 2008 4:33 AM

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