Today, we visited our old home; a run-down townhome we lived in. We used to live in "subsidized housing" from 1992-1996 while I was unemployed, and while I am grateful I had a place to live, it was based on a sliding scale of your income, which meant it was affordable to live there until you got a job, and then the rent was like 150% of a much nicer house in the same area. In the 4 years we lived there, we had three major floods (plumbing burst), our AC usually didn't work, the dryer vent did not lead outside, the roof leaked and dribbled down the walls, the parquet flooring oozed tar, and we had no second exit to escape in case of fire... and our kitchen blocked the only exit. A thirty gallon water heater meant 2 minute showers. Before we left, the upper floor was collapsing in my son's room due to constant rot, and mushrooms grew in the cracks of the walls. The whole front of the house was peeling away, leaving cracks and tears on the inside walls. Some of neighbors had sewage that backed up into their lawn. The only way we could escape from there (they had some ridiculous rule you were not allowed to leave unless you gave them a year's notice, they had 4 year contracts, and you were responsible for selling your own unit) was I faked unemployment when I left Cargo, saved up enough money working at AOL to afford to get a new place's down payment, gathered evidence of unfilled work orders, photos of the conditions we lived, and HUD rules on suitable housing. When we left (and they caught us, even over the weekend, and sent people who tried to bully us into staying) was to hand them a packet of evidence, and say there was another packet just like it ready to go to the HUD, and if they followed suit or harassed us, we would submit it to the HUD and the entire complex would be condemned because they violated so many rules, it was criminal.
They never spoke to us again, and we never returned until today.
We were on our way for me to replace my defective cell phone, and we took a shortcut through the old neighborhood (feyandstrange, saw your old house), and were surprised that our crummy section of Reston had recently been upgraded. It now has a kind of New England beach cottage thing going for it. The residents are pretty much the same, though. Poor, loud, and unattended kids running about. Our hovel looked so different. Gone was out dinky yard, and they built out into where the sheds used to be. The fences were now waist-height instead of six feet. Fresh paint and new mulch adorned the altered landscaping. You could still tell that construction went to the lowest bidder: some stuff was already warping and the fences were of such a low grade of wood, the pickets weren't even cut the same length and they were furry. I wonder how the insides looked?
After our tour, I exchanged my beat up old phone for a newer Razr V3 because my old phone wasn't taking calls due to a broken antenna, and they didn't make my model anymore. It cost like $80 to upgrade it (after rebate) and sign up for another 2 year plan. I'm happy.