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Both Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke have backed housing demolition programs in South Bend and El Paso.
Housing demolition is a controversial issue on the left. Affordable housing advocates see it as a pro-gentrification policy.
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In South Bend, more than 600 homes were destroyed. In El Paso, the oldest barrio in the city was slated for demolition.
Pete Buttigieg presided as mayor of South Bend over a plan that resulted in the demolition of more than 600 homes over a period of about three years. “1000 Homes in 1000 Days” sought to rehabilitate or demolish vacant or abandoned homes in the Northern Indiana town, an initiative that some progressive activists have criticized for encouraging gentrification and reducing affordable housing.
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“By day 1,000 the City had taken action on 1,122 properties, nearly 40% of which were repaired,” according to a statement on the South Bend website.
The initiative sparked an enormous backlash from residents, Buzzfeed reported Tuesday night, which propelled Regina Williams-Preston to a city council seat. According to the Buzzfeed report, the demolition program, “ultimately cost her family several investment properties they hoped to repair but couldn’t after Williams-Preston’s husband suffered a serious illness.”
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In O’Rourke’s case, there are some shady transactions, such as his sale of the Imperial Arms apartment complex to a campaign donor in 2017. For Buttigieg, there is no appearance of corruption, just a technocratic philosophy he may have picked up during his time in management consulting, which, for Councilwoman Williams-Preston, caused her to lose thousands of dollars in investment properties that were bulldozed.
For those watching the development of the 2020 Democratic field, these real estate fights are a pretty good way to tell which side of the party’s internal divisions they will come down on. On the one hand are insurgent progressives like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose opposition to...
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