Tuesday, April 29, 2014

housing issues -- neighborhood issues.....

April 29th, 2014, Tuesdday...

Open Letter to The First Lady of the United States:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue North West
Wash D.C. 20011

Dear Mrs. Michelle Obama:

From: Fellow Organizer and Humanitarian, Brother Tracy Gibson of Philadelphia…………….

Reason for This Letter:

To Talk About My Frustrations as an Activist concerning the issue of Gentrification…… & Reclaiming Black Neighborhoods for Black People who have lived there for generations.

First I want to say I was a landlord for over 25 years and have a propensity towards land ownership, owning property and making reasonable financial advances from property ownership. My Father, The Late Mr. Charles Saint Clair Gibson, was also a landlord and was such for over 55 years.  He owned about seven different properties during His lifetime, but never made it big like He had envisioned and planned. He basically collected rents and did quite a bit of His own fix up work on His own buildings.

When I went into the business, after a Jewish Friend of my Dad's--A Mr. Golden--lent me about $800. to buy my first property at 5323 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia. His name was Mr. Golden and I am, forever thankful and I was very happy to re-pay the loan in a timely manner. I made about $300,000. from the ownership of about 5.5 properties over the 25 years.  There was usually some long-term contention between my Father and I, but it was generally typical Father - Son issues that I had to resolve through therapy.  I forgave & forgive my Dad and He forgave me. I was never very good at what Dad called ``beating and banging'' the hard work of fixing property where, if you can put in the so-called sweat equity, you can cut corners financially and save enough money to put some money away for the future. Luckily for me, I had some good tenants and was able to get some good people to work for me.  [It was NOT all roses and poeaches, I had some evictions and some difficulties and loses also.] I also had a job at TV Guide Magazine. This helped me finance some of the investment.  It was a lot of work and I  vowed to not allow myself to re-enter the Real Estate market again unless I do so at a higher level where I can afford to own better properties, have more professional people to do the work & have sufficent money to keep the properties up.  Ultimately I would LOVe to have my own construction company to do the work for me and also manage other People's properties for them for a fee.

At the same time, I am basically a writer, so I don't want to spread myself too thin AND HAVE TOO MUCH ON MY AGENDA.  Then again, everyone concerned with their own future should consider Real Estate as a buffer for a more stable financial life. Dad used to say: Location, Location, Location, in mentioning what was the most important concept to keep in mind when working in the Real Estate Industry. I think He was right, in one Way, but I think it is important to locate up-and-coming neighborhoods to invest in as neighborhoods change. I am, at the same time, a political and social activist, so I am very, very concerned about keeping neighborhoods stable and making sure people who have lived there for years, the Black grass-roots, for example, are able to stay in their homes and make good and stable neighborhoods, while being able to pay taxes, up-keep on their properties and so forth.  More stable investments helps create more professional jobs and keep up the education system and other established neighborhood institutions.

As an investor and a serious Community Person, I am very concerned with forcing out or pushing out indigenous People such as Latin, Black, African and Caribbean People who may be renting and not owning properties.  Unfortunately it comes down to race sometimes. As an activist for many People in the Community and many issues in the community, I once testified about gentrification in CIty Council in Philadelphia and how it has ravaged our inner city neighborhoods.  I DON'T WANT TO BE A PART OF SUCH DISPLACEMENT OF POOR, BLACK AND TRADITIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD PEOPLE WITH THEIR EUROPEAN NEIGHBORS!!  I have attended many of these Real Estate seminars
where they go after the dollar like MAD MEN and forget about the people who are sometimes displaced due to losing their property as mostly White people move into Black neighborhoods. I covered the issue of gentrification along with several other issues when I was a reporter -- photographer for the Philadelphia Tribune { October 1979 - Circa 1981}. It was a new concept back then, but it has continued to impact greatly on Black neighborhoods because more people have moved into urban, inner-city areas due to raising costs of property, utilities, housing repairs and transportation.

I find myself wanting to see neighborhoods fixed up and jobs created but NOT at the expense of people who have lived in traditional Black neighborhoods losing their homes and being forced to live in the suburbs and chasing dollar bills that never seem to evolve into the American dream. I know this is a Big Problem in the Wash D.C.  area also. I know about this because I have LIVED IT!!!  I lost a home in New Castle, Delaware to foreclosure and left about $16,000. worth of valued personal items there. [50% of which was owned by my roommate Mr. Larry Davis. I had to move back into my Dad's home so I am very, very empathetic to people who have to contend with the gentrification issue, even though I want to re-enter the housing market as a landlord again in the near future.

I was wondering if there are any Federal Programs dealing with this housing loss issue and how we as activists who care about and advocate for poor and disenfranchised people can not allow such people to be displaced while still making a small profit and helping neighborhoods stabilize, create stable jobs and balance our schools to be more community-based and useful to traditional communities and inner city people.  please feel free to contact me if you can help me with this important issue...

Brother Tracy Gibson;

African Name: Kokayi;
Full Legal Name: Mr. Tracy Charles Gibson.....

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