Letters to the Editor

'Here comes the neighborhood'

A Note from the Landlord

Readers of "Here Comes the Neighborhood" (Cover Story, by Alex Pickett, 4/18-4/24) should be aware that the quote "... people are being moved out of this community. ... people can't pay the rent because white folks have raised the rent" is an isolated opinion by only 1 of the over 2,000 residents of Bartlett Park and is NOT based on fact. ALL landlords in the state of Florida ... white, black, rich and poor ... have had no choice but to raise their rents over the past two years because of skyrocketing insurance rates and property taxes. That has caused a lot of people and businesses to have to move out of the state in order to survive.

Let me give you an example. When I purchased a 2-bed/1-bath rental property in Bartlett Park in June 2005, my mortgage payment (including insurance & taxes) was $585 per month. I rented it for $700 per month and after paying the $60 per month water bill my net profit was $55 per month. During the following six months, I spent the profit plus an additional $2,000 in improvements installing a washer and dryer and replacing half of the old jealousy windows. After the 2006 increases in insurance and taxes, my mortgage jumped to $732 per month which, after paying the water bill, created a net loss for me of $92 per month. I worked a second job to make up the loss and maintained my $700 per month rent for the next six months in order to keep a good tenant [Pickett] who always paid his rent on time.

But after the 2007 increases in taxes and insurance my mortgage jumped to its current $828. Which, after paying water, netted me a loss of $188 per month, and I now had no choice but to raise the rent to $900 per month. This forced rent increase has caused me to lose a great tenant because he cannot afford it.

Was he "moved" out of Bartlett Park because I am one of those "white folks who has raised the rent?" Am I a bad guy because I'm tired of working a second job in order to make up the $188 loss per month to make the mortgage payment? Even if I am lucky enough to be able to rent my property for $900 per month, I would only net a profit of $12 per month after expenses. If I cannot rent it I will have to attempt to sell the property during a period of record lows in real estate sales and bank foreclosures.

As you can see I'm not much of a rich, white real estate tycoon. You won't find any Donald Trump owning property in Bartlett Park. The landlords here are hard-working Americans both black and white who also work full-time jobs trying to meet rising expense on their own homes and rental properties.

Scott Swift
St. Petersburg

A Gun Owner's View

Unlike many a gun advocate, I would not attempt to sway anyone's opinion on gun rights. Your article ("I like to shoot things," by Alex Pickett, April 25-May 1), in line with its liberal forum, was obviously not in support of gun rights, but did point out some unnerving practices. I'd simply like to add that if everyone were just like me in their thoughts and practices, the U.S. would not be such a great place to be. On that note, I ask the liberal-minded to remember that the freedom we enjoy today was created in war. Weapons are the single reserved counterbalance we have to a catastrophic failure of democracy. Surrendering them or allowing government to chip away our right to have them offsets the mean. I am a law-abiding citizen who would never advocate abandonment of the democracy, or that there should not be healthy regulation of gun rights, but there is a limit!

Bearing in mind our differences, I respect your absolute faith that our system will thrive indefinitely and that police will be there to protect us in our times of need. I do not have your faith, and I am prepared to defend myself against any aggressor foreign or domestic. I would simply ask the liberal-minded to acknowledge and accept our disagreement because these are invincible arguments for both sides. What happened at VA Tech was a terrible tragedy, but it could have been prevented if one person in the crowd that day shared my beliefs.

Via e-mail

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