I was born in South Florida, and, aside from a few stints in other places (England, Arkansas, California) have lived here my whole life. This has always been a good place to live -- first there was the weather: cool and dry from November to May, hot and wet from June to October. Then, there was the cost of living: as a retiree destination with no major industries aside from tourism, our cost of living could never be too much higher than that of Kingston or Nassau. Land was low and wet (dig a hole more than a foot deep and it will fill with water), but it was cheap, and you could live very well on a bartender's salary -- good enough most of the year, but more like $1000 a night slinging beers in the season. Then there was the laid-back atmosphere: most of the time I was growing up, it was hard to tell the "bums" from the "beach bums," the alcoholics from the vacationers.

Now it's hot all year, costs too much to live here, and, since "chasing away the tourists" has become the raison d'etre of every town council from Fort Lauderdale to Daytona, you can no longer make a fortune on a February weekend, nor are you likely to spend that weekend bumming about with a millionaire having a day off -- or passing for one. Northern hierarchy and snottiness came first, it seems to me. The desire to chase off the Spring Breakers came second. Then the rise in property values. Then the heat.

Bottom line: living here ain't what it used to be. But people gotta live. Some of us have our whole families down here, all our friends, our whole histories are tied up with this place. We're trying to make it down here, but the pressure's on. The benefits are evaporating and it's getting harder and harder just to live from day to day.

Today, in Palm Beach County, "hundreds, maybe thousands," near-rioted for subsidized housing. That's right, we just about had a "housing riot." Not as bad a sign as a food riot would have been, but still up there.

The wait nearly turned ugly when housing officials told hundreds still on line Wednesday morning that they only had enough applications left for those with disabilities. The crowd surged forward, almost crushing mothers with children and people in wheel chairs, said Judith Aigen, Boca Raton Housing Authority executive director.

"I think a riot was about to happen," she said.

It was then that police in riot gear stepped in, dispersing the angry crowd. Boca Raton Fire Rescue took nine people to area hospitals for medical conditions such as seizures, fainting or diabetic shock, said fire Chief Tom Wood. Police arrested two people and charged them with resisting arrest without violence, said police Chief Dan Alexander.

No one foresaw the response to an announcement by the housing agency that it planned to give out 600 applications for its Housing Choice Voucher program. Only 200 of them will be accepted.
It's too expensive to live here. We're suffering. And you can help: don't move here. If you're thinking about it, just don't come. If we can deflate this housing bubble, we can afford to live here once more. It might take years. But in the meantime, it sucks here anyway: don't come.

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