It’s undeniably heartwarming to see the efforts of so many individuals volunteer their time and energy to help out somebody in the way that around 50 off-duty firefighters helped a local …
It’s undeniably heartwarming to see the efforts of so many individuals volunteer their time and energy to help out somebody in the way that around 50 off-duty firefighters helped a local man clean up his yard and make repairs to his home as he faced fines and the impending condemnation of his property.
And although William Moquin’s story is one that pulls particularly hard at the heartstrings — a widowed veteran, threatened with losing the home he’s had for the better part of half a century, who wants to comply with local law but simply doesn’t have the financial means or physical strength to do so — we can’t help but wonder how many people in the community face or will face a similar crisis and won’t be so lucky to receive so much benevolent support to enable them to stay.
Minimum housing requirements are in place for valid reasons. Property owners should be expected to maintain a certain level of decency with their dwellings, for the safety and health of both neighbors and the property’s occupants alike. Perhaps our issue is not the overall goal or purpose for the existence of minimum housing requirements, but instead the rigidity with which they are currently maintained.
In the case of Mr. Moquin, it appears the constable acted with profound empathy, going well above and beyond her job description to seek help for someone who obviously needed it, and went so far as to actively ask for it. But to expect this type of altruistic behavior from those who are tasked with being the hammer to pound out non-conforming nails within the city is unreasonable, and unrealistic.
Nonconforming homeowners who negligently and purposefully allow their properties to degrade to a deplorable degree should face penalties, eviction, and condemnation, but only if it has become clear that they have no real desire to do the right thing. Such homeowners should not be placed in the same category as residents who have become unable to take care of their homes — whether due to age, disabilities, financial reasons or because they just physically cannot do it anymore.
Municipalities should consider the creation of a program where homeowners who have gotten in over their head can formally apply for assistance, perhaps through a partnership with local contractors to perform repairs or exterior landscaping on homes that are close to being condemned. The city could allocate a certain amount to this fund during budget time, or apply for outside grant funding, and award the grants after an application and interview process to ensure the money is going to where it would be appreciated, and needed.
We had a group of wonderful people willing to help someone out of a jam this time, and that deserves recognition and celebration. But what about the next time?
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