Family legacies

Yes, I did read Mr. Schwartzman’s article about African American old timers deciding to hang on to their homes in Shaw. A few things said by some of the interviewees reminded me of some of the things my dad had said about our lot back in Florida. There is the desire to “keep it in the family.” I don’t know the family dynamics of the interviewees, but I know my own family and without work the desire to keep property in the family, doesn’t.
My parents, despite being divorced, share a sizable urban patch of land in Florida. Mom, unable to keep the house up, wants to unload the property. Dad, wants to keep it in the family. I don’t want it. I’m not moving back to Florida (nor do I want to manage it from here) and I told mom what I’d do, sell it immediately. My sister lacks the financial strength to keep and maintain (and the house needs some serious work) the property. Dad is the one who wants to pass it on to my nieces and nephew. Unfortunatly, with dad’s past and very frequent run ins with the tax man (property tax, income tax, etc), I can see that the land could get lost to the state. If Mom can’t sell it, she has admitted that she’d just let it fall into foreclosure and really the amount left on the mortgage is equal to that of a new SUV.
Maybe the men in the WP article have stronger families than mine. For their sake, I hope they do. One strength needed is financial. Houses need maintenance, as every homeowner knows, and whatever needs fixing is never cheap. Then there are property taxes, insurance, and mortgages. Second strength, a desire for family members to remain living at the house. It means little if a townhouse is left to a family member who would rather stay in their split-level with driveway in Upper Marlboro and rent the townhouse to whomever. Or if an inheriting family member finds the confines of the house too constraining, too small, too old, too run down, too big, or requires too much work. Lastly, there needs to be a will or living trust that clearly states who in the family is to get the property. Preferably, a family member who shares the same love of place with the financial ability to keep it up. Without the love of place, the desire to live there, then they’ll probably wind up selling it to a newcomer.