Friday, January 15, 2010

Finding Housing for the Kids

Shortly after I posted yesterday's observation about foreclosure rates (we're number 11!), Mrs Elliott left on a jet plane to the Bay Area to attend to client relations and to meet with the contractors who will be helping her turn a typical low-end California tract house that she bought cheap into a livable space for our son and grandchildren.

I dunno. While it just doesn't feel right to me to buy commodity housing in California -- a state that has the fourth-highest number of houses foreclosed on in 2009, the children are living in a pitiful little apartment in, in a storage facility, less than a quarter of a mile from one of the busiest freeways in California and need some way to escape.

Epidemiological studies are clear: health risks for children are very high near freeways. One of the kids has asthma. Incidence of chronic asthma spike in areas where children live day in and day out in a cloud of suspended and vaporized toxins and pollutants which roll off the freeway, all day, around the clock.

So helping the kids move to a somewhat cleaner environment (between Sacramento and Oakland) is beneficial for the grandchildren. Our son will have a 30 to 60 minute commute each way every day, and that kind of stuff wears a man down. But a four-bedroom house for wife and children is often an adequate exchange for the soul-deadening drive. Kind of like giving your soul to the devil in exchange for mad guitar playing-fu. It's the sort of choice that men historically accept.

The house is really inexpensive, even by Bend standards. It's in a tract of similar houses (stretching as far as the eye can see!), a breeder community for raising kids (Jack is so pleased those days are behind him: raising kids isn't something that Jack signed up for when handed male genitalia, but what else are you going to use the equipment for?), a decent school district by impoverished California standards (vote YES on Oregon Measures 66 & 67, asshole), and it represents, pretty much, the only chance those kids have of getting out of Oakland hell.

There are reasons why they can't move all the way out of California to a quieter, healthier, prettier, and more honest place. I don't recall what all the reasons are. Mrs Elliott is pretty smart, I'm sure she explained them all to me. I do know that Bend is too small for our son, who operates a one-man towing company, to find consistent work, otherwise I'd be agitating to move them here, like we did our other son.

And the Oakland son's wife has family there, and there is built-in babysitting in the form of another son and family who live near the new location . . . reason, reason, and another reason.

So, really, Mrs Elliott is doing is the best thing she can do for the kids. She is also outfitting one of the bedrooms and a bathroom down there as a mini-office so when she visits (which she is planning on doing frequently; who wouldn't want a mother-in-law like that -- am I right, ladies?) she'll be able to claim her part of the mortgage payment as a business expense.

But even so, I wish that a nicer, sweeter place to raise kids had been found.

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