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City officials have proposed scattering affordable apartments throughout a planned nine-story tower Downtown, rather than concentrating them on three floors.

In response, the State Journal's editorial board is determined to remind low-income tenants of their proper place with their Aug. 4 editorial, "Madison shouldn't confuse affordable housing with high-rise penthouses."

Like Republicans aghast at food-stamp users eating salmon, the editors scoff at the "utopian folly" of a few poor people enjoying "sweeping views."

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Nevermind that class-stratified apartment buildings bring to mind J.G. Ballard's dystopian novel "High-Rise," which doesn't end well. Making sure that low-income renters don't feel economically segregated is a valid goal. If "feelings" seem trivial here, consider how important it is to feel dignified and respected in one's own home.

Scattering, admittedly, will cost more and may mean fewer affordable units overall. I'd accept those trade-offs if the city can create more resilient, economically interwoven communities. Research on social interaction in mixed-income housing doesn't necessarily provide one clear road map to that goal, but we needn't denigrate poor people with condescending reminders of how the "real world" works. They know.

Scott Gordon, Madison

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