Sometimes I just have to shake my head in disbelief.
A puppy that was thrown out a third floor window in Springfield on Thursday is reaping much sympathy and support from the community. The SPCA has set up a fund to raise the $5,000 needed for medical care. A warrant has been issued for the twenty year old man alleged to have done the deed. Everyone has been rightly horrified by the cruelty.
Meanwhile, the same week, a woman and her four year old son narrowly escaped death by carbon monoxide poisoning because of an inadequately vented furnace. Turns out the apartment, a converted garage, is illegal; the wiring, plumbing and other systems are also out of code. The building is owned by a city employee, Luis Colon.
The community response? It's her fault for choosing to live in an illegal apartment; she is the one who put her son's life (and her own) at risk. The landlord has been roundly criticized also, especially since he is a city employee. But the woman? Pregnant again-- probably no daddy around-- probably living on welfare-- probably getting Section 8. Even though the newspaper picture of the converted garage shows an apparently well-maintained, somewhat charming dwelling, somehow she should have known.
I've met a lot of people through the years of Arise who knowingly lived in illegal apartments. Either it was all they could afford or they feared retaliation, eviction and potential homelessness if they reported the apartment to Code Enforcement. I don't think that was this young woman's story.
I wonder: if the city had the funds to hire enough housing inspectors, and rigorously enforced the housing code, would they be prepared for the crisis in homelessness that would follow?