Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Diane English, May 20 2006. Interview U-0184. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

English's enjoyment of homeownership and fears of urban revitalization

English views homeownership as a fulfillment of the American Dream—individual ownership and freedom. She worries that the revitalization efforts will push homeowners out of their homes because of increased taxes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Diane English, May 20 2006. Interview U-0184. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Of that revitalization plan what piece of it are you most interested in seeing enacted?
The main part that we were worried about were the homeowners that were already here. The taxation. We know that it's going to be renewed. We know that the tax is going to go sky high. We already know. We wanted to get some kind of tax abatement program put in place whereas it would give the home owners that were here during the time that the plan was written, not your new home owners, but the ones that have been here five, six, ten years that have been fighting this length of time, give them an opportunity to put some funds aside to catch up with the tax increases that we have had. That hasn't happened. We had a double tax increase all of a sudden. You have a lot of people here with fixed incomes. It's not elderly—they say medium to low incomes. We probably got medium incomes but before everybody's income was about the same. With the elderly living on their own, in their own homes we know they can't pay double taxes on their properties. We know they have this taxation program if you're sixty and make $19,900 a year you can get a tax break. If you worked a good job and retired you going to get more that $19,900. It's not helping them either. We continue to work on something even with our attorney.
Is this Ted Fillette?
No it's not. His name is Paul Steffens. He's with Kennedy and Covington. Then we are working with the state level trying to see if they could work something out through congress or whatever. Give us like a tax program where we could—. We feel like we're going to lose one way. We're not going to lose from somebody snatching our houses up, unless it's the tax collector or your mortgage company. That's one reason why we did decide to have attorneys working with us. You have foreclosures going on right now quite frequently. If you can't pay your taxes we know they can eventually foreclose on your properties and seize your properties. Hopefully, we can put some fire there and say you may take the property but it won't be an easy task for you to take properties in our neighborhood. We feel like that's one thing that's going to come. You know you are going to you're your $100,000 homes, your $200,000 homes. You're going to have your tax increases but you have to realize there were people here before it started. These are the people that brought this neighborhood for you to come in and take over. The crime is down now due to some of the things that we as homeowners done before you even got here. At least give us some type of—. We're not looking for a big reward, at least give us a tax break. That would be a great reward so that we would be able to keep our homes. A lot of people are not planning to keep—they know that they are not going to be able to keep their homes.
What does home ownership represent to you?
It represents a big part of your life. It's like something that your parents didn't have when they were growing up or had the opportunity. My parents never owned a home. They always were renters or share croppers. Most of my friends, they own homes and it's like, to me, when I became a home owner it was like a different step. It made me feel like a different person. You have a whole different outlook on life. You feel better. You feel like you've accomplished something. When you pay your mortgage you feel like okay this will be mine sooner or later. Maybe later, but at least it's an effort. It's something to work hard at. You have to have something in life to work toward or else you'll get bored stiff really. To me, I get bored easily. I have to keep busy. I have to constantly keep busy. I can't sit. I read then I get tired of reading, then I get bad about working on this house. I will paint this room one day then I'll come back and change the color the next day. My kids say, "I don't know what color to expect in the house." That's why I can't put drapes because one day it'll be green. The next day it'll be red. It just depends whatever paint I find and I like the color. That's one part I like about being a homeowner. I can change my paint. I can paint any color I want to paint. I can do whatever I want to do to it. Nobody has the right to say you can't do that to your walls. Or you can't plant that in your yard. Home ownership is the way for me. I wish more people would think that way.