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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Breaking News! The Rent is Too High!

The Washington Post has this story today about the crunch in the rental housing market, which apparently is migrating up from lower income families to pinch the middle class even more.

Here in Seattle, where foreclosed houses are saturating the market and former homeowners are looking for rentals, rent prices are worse than they were when I first moved out here 16 years ago. We just renewed our lease, and had to negotiate like hell to keep the rent increase down to JUST $110 a month.

One of the things the Post piece addresses is the lack of new low-income housing. What it doesn’t get into, so much, is the problem addressed by the doc The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: that because there are incentives to build low-income housing, but not so much to maintain them, part of what happens is that even when lower-income housing is built, it quickly deteriorates once they build it and fill it.

We’ve seen that first-hand over the past two years at the apartment complex my oldest daughter lives in in Seattle. She moved in (with my mom) when the place was so brand-new, they were the first tenants in there besides the maintenance guy. She stayed another year, with her fiance, after my mom moved out. And when I say “lower income,” btw, what that means is that they are “just” paying $1100 a month for a very tiny two-bedroom (technically, it’s a 1 1/2 BR, but we’ll be generous).

In just 24 months, this complex has gone from being a nice place for lower-income families to a crime-ridden ghetto. The police are out there several times a night. Little kids are running wild around the grounds at 2AM. It’s Lord of the Flies over there. They are moving out this weekend, into a bigger, cheaper apartment in a small quad in Shoreline.

It’s certainly not news to any of my friends in NY and LA that the cost of rent is ridiculous. But as my friend Hank Stuever (who also writes for the post) pointed out: Since when is the “norm” for rent and utilities 30 percent of pre-tax income?

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One Response to “Breaking News! The Rent is Too High!”

  1. With this economy getting a loan to get a house could be a scary purchase. Rent to buy homes is a safer solution.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon