Two weeks ago: I’m walking down Shaver Street away from MLK, photographing the under-construction Shaver Green lower-income housing complex, when a nearby resident, standing on his front step, notices and stops me to talk. This gentleman, about fifty years old, and with features that could perhaps be gently described as ‘weatherbeaten,’ minces no words as he spits disgust into the air. “Motherfuckers didn’t even let anyone know they were building this piece of garbage,” he says, waving towards Shaver Green.
He’s lived in his house for twenty-two years, he tells me. “Fucking piece of shit,” he calls Shaver Green. “Property owners always get screwed.” He tells me his property taxes have risen a thousand dollars because of Shaver Green (I checked this, and it is not true. Property taxes on the property he lives in have risen two hundred dollars a year over the past decade), and he predicts plenty of fights in the neighborhood over parking, since Shaver Green’s parking lot is tiny.
He, a white man, tells me he liked it when the (Albina) neighborhood was black. He complains of “snitches” in the area. “Can’t do anything now without someone turning you in” to the police, he tells me. He speaks of his neighbors, saying that black folks nearby have kept up their properties and invested in them, while white homeowners have not. His agitation is palpable as he describes his neighborhood in transition and to him, under siege.