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Rise of Rent

by Christina Imeri

Hi, My name is Christina. I am a student at San Joaquin Delta College’s RTV department and we have partnered with the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, otherwise known as SEED, program to gather stories of what economic security could mean to citizens in the Stockton area. I decided to interview my uncle Clayton, a recent Stockton transplant originally from the Bay Area. I began by asking him what an extra US$500.00 a month would mean to him.

-US$500.00 a month. Wow. I'd definitely put it towards food and rent. That's two thigs you can’t live without. Everything else after that. You need a roof and food. You have to go through the basics. Frivolous spending doesn't get you [anywhere]. You're in the hole as fast as you started. Um, no but definitely food and rent

I asked him about his ongoing search for a new place and what he thought of the current housing market in Stockton

- There's a lot of rent-to-own units out there. Lots of them. I mean, all foreclosed houses from the crash. The inventory in Stockton is quite limited and what I have seen and for the prices, a bit disappointing. I’m sure there's a gem out there, just a matter of finding it and hunting and hunting.

Clayton was already somewhat familiar about the SEED program and how it will operate. We discussed his views, of which he had varying opinions on the matter.

-Everything has its pros and cons. And it will definitely be the demographic in the final selection that will make the big difference of whether the program will actually be successful or not and I do believe that there are enough people out there that would make it work for them. That there would actually be a viable larger-scale experiment on it later. As long as the money actually being used for the program is actually not coming from any government sources or city or state because that's just being funded by debt that the community is in and those tax dollars could go elsewhere.

During our discussion, I thought he brought up a valuable point about expanding this initiative outside of Stockton and what it could mean to the nation.

- If it went largescale, that would be my concern. I haven't seen any mention if the program works. They were doing one in Alaska and the governor just shut that one down four months into it, I think and it was supposed to run for two years. There's been no precedent for it, really. Finland just shut theirs down. I think as well, early. So, if the Stockton one can run its full course, that would be actually be quite interesting.

Like myself and many other residents, Clayton remained somewhere in the middle about this endeavour. One thing for sure, residents and outsiders alike are expressing great interest in this highly ambitious yet risky undertaking.

-As Dolly Parton once said: "There's no such thing as bad publicity."

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