60 minutes or 7 days on highway 99

Who lives here?

Who lives here?

In my first hour on Aurora I met people who lived there.  Not in the condos and single family homes one block away, but directly in the noise zone of 99.  It’s tempting to consider Aurora a commercial thoroughfare primarily, not a place to live.  So who does live there?  Homeless folks.  It’s not surprising to be pan-handled at a fast food joint in many neighborhoods -certainly happens to all of us in the U district -and it happened to me right away on our visit to Aurora, twice.  But then I almost tripped over a well dressed woman and her 8 year old right inside the door of Jack in the Box.  They obviously wanted to talk.  What was the name of that recording artist on the muzak?  Karen Carpenter.  What are we doing here?  Urban analysis -architecture, planning, landscape, design.  Interested, the mom told me she was an interior decorator.  What does Aurora need, I asked.  Color she said.  And more light to discourage drug dealers.  Her daughter showed me the elaborate rubber band bracelets she was weaving with a small craft kit.  How long have you lived here I asked.  Less than a week.  They were homeless the mom told me.  Public assistance vouchers pay only for the cheapest motels -thus landing them on Aurora.  Bouncing them around constantly because the assistance is only given out in one week increments.  So now when I look at the motels on 99 I don’t think first about illicit activities.  I think about homeless families.  About a mother and daughter out for a family meal.  Seeking socialization.  Desperate for conversation.  I think about inequalities of income and opportunity.  I think about Aurora as a unique kind of 21st century neighborhood.

-Rob Corser


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