Concerning My Vote and Position on the Joe Rivas House

Concerning My Vote and Position on the Joe Rivas House

1)      Am I compassionate and concerned with helping the most vulnerable citizens in our community?  Yes, I am and I believe that my voting record shows that.  I fight for people’s homes as witnessed in efforts to save the Hillside neighborhood from being completely decimated by the use of eminent domain to take their property for the purpose of replacing it with a substation for DME.

2)      Do I work and make it a priority to increase affordable housing and ADA compliant affordable housing in this community?  Yes.  I share this focus and call for action along with the rest of our council.

3)      Do I understand the challenges that citizens with disabilities are faced with in their day to day?  I was raised in a house with my cousin (who was like my sister, may she rest in peace) who lived her life in a wheelchair and struggled with the many health issues related to severe spina bifida.

So why would I cast a vote in opposition to providing Joe Rivas with a home?  My issue is not with helping Joe, who was renting a home that was acquired by the city to make room for substations and transmission lines.  I was initially completely in favor of the city providing this home to Joe (and I am still in favor of DME providing housing for him as they absolutely should). But I met and talked with the woman – a citizen – who previously owned the home that the city is now giving to Joe.  She was told by our city that she was going to have to give up her home because of DME’s new transmission lines.  She could settle and sell her home to the city or have it taken by the city through eminent domain.   She was told she could no longer own that property because he garage was in the easement of transmission lines.  She had to sell her house to the city.  A house that was her income property (she is an older lady with her own health issues and she relied on this stream of income).  A house that her father built.  She had to part ways with that.  Property she owned.  Property that had been in her family.  Property that was her source of income.  That was not easy for her.

This woman – a fellow citizen – goes through all of that, attempts to make peace with the process she just lived through, and then sees the city turn right around and give the very same house and property to someone else.  We didn’t even offer her the option to buy the house back from us – which she would have done and wanted to.

I have compassion for Joe Rivas and all of the citizens in our community that need affordable housing, and especially those that need affordable ADA compliant housing options.  But this is not the right way to provide that assistance to these citizens.  We told a citizen of our community that she had to give up her property.  Then we chose to give her house and property to someone else.  She may have been compensated but it was under false pretenses.  It may even hold up in court.  But that does not mean that we did this the right way and it does not sit right with me.

There is more to this story than meets the eye.  I hope this helps you understand my position.  As always I am here for you, available to discuss, and open to your input as your elected official.

Your humble representative,
Keely G.  Briggs
People Come First