Villa Nova is victim of liberal's zeal

June 26, 1996|By GREGORY KANE

Drive straight out Liberty Road, heading northwest, and you'll probably miss it -- a snug little community called Villa Nova that you'll run smack dab into by turning right on Essex Road.

Villa Nova is a quiet, picturesque haven of detached one- and two-story houses. Its residents are middle class, multiracial and -- if a recent meeting of the community association's board of directors is any indication -- opposed to programs like Moving to Opportunity and the HUD/HABC settlement with the AC-To-Hell-With-You.

Rosalie Poole, president of the community association, wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis on May 20, saying: "Homeowners in Villa Nova have already experienced a 17 percent decline in property values due to an uncontrolled influx of subsidized housing recipients in the Liberty Corridor over the past two years alone. . . . Our police department has informed us that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of crime committed in our community are nearby subsidized housing recipients."

The Villa Nova Community Association's Board of Directors -- four whites and four blacks who have lived there a combined 107 years -- gathered at a recent Monday evening meeting to vent their frustration at liberal buttinskys' zeal for desegregation that has led to a program that has, in fact, destabilized an already integrated community.

Harry Fox, a white 26-year resident of Villa Nova, pointed out how the debate has been stacked in favor of those favoring the HUD/HABC settlement.

"If you speak out against the ACLU position on this and you're white, you're a racist. If you're black, you're unconcerned. You can't object to it without being labeled."

Correction, Harry. There have been a lot more vituperative terms for blacks who dare suggest that the HUD/HABC/AC-To-Hell-With-You housing settlement is anything less than a gift from liberal heaven. Let's see now. There's Uncle Tom. There's conservative, uttered with a sneer indicating that to be conservative automatically implies being not black -- that, indeed, it might be some kind of mental illness. Two prominent black politicians implied that one particularly cantankerous columnist was a cheap-shot artist for suggesting that the AC-To-Hell-With-You had not done black folks any particular favors in filing the lawsuit that led to the settlement.

That settlement, Fox fears, will bring an "inordinately large" amount of people to Villa Nova who have criminal and drug backgrounds. As proof, he and other board members cited the man arrested for 22 burglaries in Villa Nova who was a Section 8 recipient and had moved to apartments nearby. The group scoffed at claims that safeguards will be provided to see that additional unsavory elements do not move in.

"Historically, safeguards have not been effectuated," Fox claimed.

Poole interjected, alleging that "there are people who are on Section 8 with records as long as my arm. We want to know why."

All agreed that they are not speaking of all Section 8 recipients, only the misfits who abuse it. And every reader knows, because of that conniving little rascal in grade school who committed some mischievous act that got the entire class to stay after school, it only takes a few misfits to mess things up for everybody.

Sheila Lewis, a black, seven-year resident of Villa Nova, said Section 8 city dwellers who move near Villa Nova won't even have the support services they will need, citing education as an example.

"What good does it do to move a child from Lexington Terrace Elementary," Lewis said, "where there was a good student-teacher ratio, to an overcrowded Woodmoor Elementary School?"

It does no good at all. All the board members said they smell a rat here, as do I. The goal of Move To Opportunity or the HUD/HABC/AC-To-Hell-With-You settlement is not desegregation. Villa Nova is already desegregated, by choice.

The liberals who support the settlement fail to recognize the hundreds upon hundreds of poor people who have moved from segregated public housing to either integrated or all-black middle-class neighborhoods. The liberals fret about the poor black folks left behind. So, to even things out, they think of programs to help move them out.

But let's call that what it is. The issue here is class, not race. So it's not a matter of desegregation. It's social engineering on such a massive scale that it borders on socialism. And if those who support the settlement want socialism, they should simply ask for it.

Gregory P. Kane's column appears on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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