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The War on Blight

If you live in an older section of town, this may already have happened to you.  You wake up in a cold sweat.  For the past 15 years, you and your husband have lovingly restored an old Victorian house.  It was pretty decrepit when you started; now, it is an object of pride and beauty.  You replaced all of the windows with custom-made units that replicated the original styles.  The classic wood floors, with a different type of wood on each level, have all been carefully refinished and add a warm glow.  All the plumbing is new—PVC and copper tubing—and all of the wiring has been changed from knob-and-tube to the latest and safest breaker boxes.  Your house looks so nice that several of your neighbors from the Elm Street Neighborhood Association have started fixing theirs up, too.

Unfortunately, there is that place down at the corner, the one that houses at least 40 undocumented workers and their families.  The gutters are falling to the ground; it has not had a coat of paint in at least the time you have lived in the neighborhood; and there are more families living in camper trucks and trailers parked in the yard.  Goats and chickens have reduced the lawn to dirt.

That house is much better than the one next door, which was broken up into small apartments many years ago.  It, too, has not seen any maintenance in years.  There are broken beer and whiskey bottles...

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