Top ten sentiments ACTUALLY expressed by REAL PEOPLE at my building's shared ownership residents' meeting this evening.
IMPORTANT CONTEXT FOR NON-BRITISH READERS: In Britain, as in most places, and especially in London, there is a shortage of affordable housing. This shortage affects both the very poor, who can't even pay private market rent, and the middle-class, who can afford rent but have little hope of buying property. To solve both problems, the government legislated a class of housing called "shared ownership," whereby middle-class people can buy a portion of a home and pay heavily subsidised rent on the other portion. The catch is that these shared ownership homes are usually only given planning permission if they are built into new developments that also include social housing for the very poor. The result is "mixed-tenure" buildings like mine where the middle-class share with both the very poor and often, in cases where the building also offers private rent and private ownership apartments, the moderately rich—the idea being that the richer residents effectively subsidise the poorer ones, while the melting pot of so many people from different backgrounds living in close proximity fosters mutual understanding and greater social cohesion.
That idea, at least if tonight's meeting was anything to go by, is rather seriously over-optimistic. END CONTEXT.
And so, without further ado:
10. "I paid a lot of money for my parking space, and you're just giving them away to disabled people for free?"
9. "Who's responsible for the roof of the new 24-hour gym opening next door? Because my window looks out over it and I've noticed a lot of debris collecting up there already."
8. "I'm a public school teacher and I'm all in favour of inclusion and I don't want to sound like an elitist twat and I voted 'In' and all that, but if I'd known there were going to be so many social housing units in the building I would never have bought here. We're all new homeowners and I think I speak for the whole room when I say that frankly it's been a disappointing experience."
7. "I think the 24-hour gym will make the building safer, because it will be manned all the... Sorry, "manned" is a terrible word to use, isn't it? It will be staffed by people all the time."
6. "I know we've established that the people on the lower floors can't let their kids ride bikes around the common outdoor area... But my kid can, right? He's only little." (*NB ADDITIONAL CONTEXT: the social housing is on floors one to six, the shared ownership housing on floors seven and eight.)
5. "Somebody keeps leaving cotton buds in the stairwell."
4. "Is it safe to leave my bike in the bike storage locker? Do the social housing units have access to that?"
3. "I mean, that is just horrendous. I'm genuinely offended. How can anyone not recycle?"
2. "Can we get some kid-friendly signs in the bin storage room? Because a lot of the social housing families get their kids to take out the rubbish and they leave it in the wrong place."
1. [Collective gasp of delight at rumour that a coffee shop will be opening downstairs.]
I didn't make up a word of this folks. Not. A. Word.