Three young couples from Texas, Iowa and Ohio, respectively, have come to LaGrange, Georgia, as part of a MissionYear Project. They are volunteering for the Alterna Community here, which is a cluster of homes set up for immigrant families in the area. These couples have set up a community garden for Alterna, help with after school tutoring for immigrant family youth, help out with house repairs, etc… In addition, these young couples are active in the community volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, coordinating a church youth group, working at a home for single mothers… One of the volunteers, Dustin White, has become a vocal advocate for better housing among the low-income throughout the community. As part of his advocacy work, he takes people on tours of the town’s ‘other side of the tracks,’ literally. During a tour he gave me, White said primarly low-income Blacks and Hispanic immigrants, for generations, have lived in rough housing settlements on the south side of the tracks. He took me down hardscrabble street after street of small, one-story, run-down houses. Patches of missing roof shingles, peeling paint, single pane broken windows, clap board walls with no insulation, rusted appliances (many not working)… Dustin took me in one small home where the floor tile was broken up, an old rusty bath tub lay on it’s side, many of the appliances didn’t work, a window was broken… “This one is advertised as ‘ready to rent,”‘ White scoffed. He said while seemingly totally unsuitable to live in, a new immigrant family (because of finances) would be forced into such a dwelling — and might well live in it with another family. Close by this home is the rather bare bones Williams Griggs Recreational Center. We took our kids there to play some hoops. We, it turned out, were the ‘token whites’ there this day. Dustin White had told me that although the “Colored” signs have been taken down on the third gas station bathrooms, and the like, here, the community was still fairly segregated. Note: White told me there was a non-profit organization in LaGrange called DASH, which helps renovate homes. White, and his wife Jamie, have recently published a book called Disguised in their Eyes. It’s about the inner city poor. They suggest at one point in the book that those more well off convert their garages to apartments and take the rent money to fund programs like DASH, so more people can have access to adequate housing. Good idea.