Decaturish Hannah Olan photo

Decaturish Spotlights a Neighbor Living in Missing Middle Housing

If you were at the February 6 City of Decatur Commission Meeting, you heard the Rev. Hannah Olan, who lives in an affordable duplex, speak about her experience living in Decatur. 

She had always felt welcome despite not owning her home until she received an anti-Missing Middle flyer on her mailbox. For the first time, she felt like an outsider. 

Hannah took this hurt and put it into words, delivering a heartfelt statement to the city commissioners explaining why reinstating missing middle zoning in Decatur was so important. Her statement begins at the two hour and 17 minute mark.

Read more about Hannah and the reinstated duplex, triplex and quad zoning in this Decaturish article. 

Her February 6 Statement

Hello, I’m Hannah Olan. I live on Lockwood Terrace. It’s nestled right in front of that mural that says Good Trouble. It’s a nice reminder of what I should embody. A few things about me. My full title is Rev. Hannah Olin. I’m a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and I’ve lived in the greater neighborhood since I attended there. I had my son mid program and he was born at DeKalb Medical so we’ve been around for a minute. 

I want to echo Rev. David Lewicki’s words from last time and that the idea of housing is a theological issue. Without the duplex I live in, I couldn’t afford to live in the city limits. I rent here now. My neighbor next door to me, he’s a retired Vietnam veteran. The people across the way, she’s a single mom with a son who graduated in the pandemic and Danny was good enough to watch my son ride his bike around while I cooked dinner because in the pandemic there was no one else to do it. Next door to him is a mother and daughter who live on a fixed income and who are in their 90s and 70s. We range in age from 70 to 93. We’re racially diverse as well in my little quad of duplexes. 

I came home from a random weekend away, which doesn’t happen very often. When I came home, there was this flyer taped to my mailbox that said I should stand up to not have duplexes in Decatur. I wonder if they were aware that they were taping it toa mailbox that belonged to a duplex? Or maybe they just weren’t aware enough to think that I would want to gate-keep the community that I have found that has loved me and cared for me and my son and that I would want to keep that from anyone else? But this is my home and this is where I belong. 

The idea that we would stop other people like me and my little community from being in Decatur is really upsetting to me. I always hope that the city that I choose to live in would choose people over parking. That we would choose a diverse neighborhood instead of one that would ensure we can have all of our cars. I want us to choose to act in love and willingness to be open as opposed to fear and being afraid. Our property values are not as important as the people who live next door to us. That was shown to me time and time again in my community throughout the last few years that I’ve lived here. Thank you.