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home : columns : dear harriette January 17, 2019

10/29/2018 8:35:00 AM
Low-paying tenant worried about getting pushed out

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a rental building that has started to gentrify. A new couple moved in a few months ago, and I have tried to welcome them. We are different from each other, but still cordial.

The wife has been complaining about lots of things in the building, and while she was complaining she told me that she pays what is comparable to three times my rent -- for the same size apartment. I didn't think it was smart to tell her what I pay. I'm concerned, though, that these high-paying neighbors may start to push the rest of us out. I have seen it before. How can I help them to feel like part of our community without giving them ammo to try to get us out of the building? -- New Neighbor Drama, Manhattan, New York

DEAR NEW NEIGHBOR DRAMA: Continue to be friendly and responsive to your neighbors. If there are any building traditions, make sure you let them know, such as participating in giving out candy at Halloween or any type of group activity for the tenants. If there is a tenants' organization, encourage them to join. This is how they will learn more about how things work in your building and in your community.

If your neighbors have legitimate gripes about the building, show compassion. Also, give context. Many landlords are lazy when it comes to handling basic needs. It can be true that new, higher-paying tenants may get the landlord's attention faster, at least in the beginning. Encourage the new tenants to think of everyone when they lobby for change. Help them to feel they are part of your community. This may make it easier for them to be inclusive rather than attempting down the line to oust anybody.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend is a police officer. I am proud of him for choosing a tough job, but it is hard for me to listen to his stories. I am blown away by what he tells me he goes through on some days. After he tells me about those days, I am then stuck in fear for a month or more, worried about whether my man is going to come home at all. I don't want to end this relationship, but I feel like we have to manage how much he tells me.

Am I wrong for not being able to deal with his job? I don't know if I can handle it if we stay together, but for now, I know I can't be privy to all of his experiences. I worry that he is going to die every day. He is not at risk of a gunshot wound or other dangerous incident every day -- it just feels like it. -- Keep It to Yourself, Washington, D.C.

DEAR KEEP IT TO YOURSELF: Many couples do not share blow-by-blow details of their workday on a daily basis. You can surely ask your boyfriend to keep his sharing to a minimum. Be sure to explain why.

Bigger than that, you two need to talk about the future. What can you handle? Not discussing his job doesn't make it any less real. You have to be crystal clear about what you're signing up for and be willing to accept the potential danger in your boyfriend's job choice. Otherwise, it won't work.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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