Posted on September 6, 2006

My Home Became A Ghetto: As Immigrants Moved In, Our Peaceful Neighborhood Declined

Phillip J. Hubbell, Dallas Morning News, September 3, 2006

I’m a Fort Worth native and lifelong Texan who’s spent the last 21 years living and working in North Texas. But now, I’m living in Omaha, Neb.

I love my home state and never would have moved if my company hadn’t transferred me. I could have delayed the move until 2009, but I decided to get out of Carrollton sooner, before my property value plummeted even further. That, plus I was getting tired of having to make an effort to be understood in English in my own town.

The two are connected.

The property values in my south Carrollton neighborhood had been steadily rising for years. My wife and I bought our home in 1988 when she became pregnant with our second child. It was a nice, quiet neighborhood on a dead-end street. Lots of little homes whose owners took responsibility for the upkeep, mowed their lawns and who had pride in the look of the place.

I don’t care about skin color, ethnicity, religion, creed or anything other than the content of someone’s character. These are external attributes and have no bearing on whether someone is a good neighbor or a good person. Ours was a mixed neighborhood, with whites, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Middle Easterners and even some gay folks.

At some point things changed. The trigger was 9/11. A lot of people lost their jobs as a result of the economic downturn caused by that event — myself included. The economic demographic of the neighborhood changed, and so did the general makeup of our part of town, which includes southern Carrollton and northern Farmers Branch. Along with a lot of the houses becoming rental properties, the number of Hispanics whom I believe to be illegal aliens skyrocketed.

For some reason Farmers Branch and southern Carrollton seem a favorite stopping off point for these lawbreakers. Our government declines to do anything about people breaking these laws, and people who complain are branded as racist. Of course being called a racist these days on the immigration issue doesn’t really mean much. It just means that you disagree with blame-America-first liberals on the left and open-borders, cheap-labor businesspeople on the right.

All of a sudden, we had many new residents who could not speak English and who didn’t appear to be interested in learning. It wasn’t a melting pot so much as a ghetto. Labor-intensive businesses started operating out of houses in our neighborhood. Some days you could hardly drive down the street for all the cars. A vacant house suddenly became a makeshift parking lot for what appeared to be a makeshift auto repair shop. Jobless homeowners turned over a number of houses to renters. Property values stagnated.

People who didn’t care what their houses and yards looked like moved into the neighborhood. The residents of a house might have six to eight cars with a garage filled to overflowing with old furniture and appliances. When room ran out in driveways and in front of a house, the cars moved into yards. Then property values started to slip.

Our little neighborhood was becoming shabby. When I was growing up, if a house had residents who trashed their front yards, the city issued citations and got the place cleaned up. This doesn’t seem to be a priority of city governments any longer.

I could see the years of equity we put into our house slipping down the drain as our once-pleasant mixed neighborhood turned into a dump. I could also see that neither the federal government, nor the state government, nor the city government was going to do anything to help people like me. And I know how the game is played in the media: People like me are routinely depicted as ignorant racist rednecks. We can’t win.