Recently, standing in the lobby of the Sergeant Jasper Building and looking at the plaque on the wall, I could only reflect and wonder what the mindset must have been back in the 1940s with regard to providing affordable housing to average working Americans.
The plaque commemorates the achievement of the Federal Housing Administration (a pro- gram left over from the New Deal era), local contractors and the building's completion back in the year 1950.
It's amazing how much times have changed since then.
Last week, the 300-plus tenants were notified to vacate the building by mid-August of this year. The building will then be demolished to make way for upscale, luxurious villas and townhouses (most likely third and fourth homes for billionaires).
I can easily understand why they would want to live here. It's a wonderful location and the current building is known for being the eyesore of the neighborhood.
What I can't understand is why or how such a diverse group of hardworking people, retirees and students can be so easily uprooted. Perhaps this is just a sign of the times. Money talks and the other stuff walks.
Apparently the lower 90 percent must not deserve access to affordable housing in downtown Charleston.
Back when the Sergeant Jasper went up, the typical CEO got paid only about 20 times the typical worker's salary. Now the same CEO gets about 275 times the typical worker's salary.
Somehow this is considered fair, and anyone who questions this economic disparity seems to get marginalized and labeled as extremist, communist, libertarian, anarchist, occupier, conspiracy theorist or much worse.
The Federal Building on Marion Square sat empty for 15 years.
Yet somehow a fully occupied apartment building can be cleared out abruptly by a landlord, with barely any protest.
Baffling, isn't it?
Just think about the hardships imposed on the diverse tenants (all ages and all backgrounds, including the disabled), many of whom will need to relocate entirely out of state.
Some of them have been living in the Sergeant Jasper for decades. And that doesn't even mention the businesses operating on several of the lower floors.
This distressing situation really makes me wonder (once again) if this country is going in the right direction.