homeless housing solution

March 20, 2017

Contributor

Great feedback to my blog and posts about the state of homeless housing in the United States, has been pouring in. I get comments from folks struggling with poverty, with homelessness, and with the threat of homelessness and what that does to their psyches. I also get comments from the Haves among my friends on Facebook whose responses to the fear of an elderly woman becoming homeless again and dying on the streets like her friends have can be so cold it could re-freeze Antarctica. One said “Sadly she did not plan for the future during her youth, Trish House . It is important that when we can still work figure out how we are going to survive when we get old and cannot work anymore.” While there is an element of truth in that, in the comment is implied that she didn’t plan so she deserves to die on the streets.

One person who is receiving disability payments and housing aid is very versed in the status of the aid available to folks and she provided this “

As of FY 2015, 5.5 million households were receiving some type of rental assistance. 85% of their $46.5 billion dollar budget goes towards rental assistance of some type.

When I calculate that out, it’s an average of $7246 of help, per household, per year. So, that equals about $603/month in rental help, for all their rental programs combined. I am definitely not a statistician, though, and I know it’s no where near as simple as that.

It’s here: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD   Then click on FY 2015 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT & 
FY 2017 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLAN. It’s a PDF file.”

The taxpayers are struggling so hard to make it, or get ahead, that watching people around them live off the fruits of their labor in public housing burns their minds. When a private landlord is profiting from the poor the cost to the taxpayer goes up. In the Housing Choice Voucher program, the recipient is required to find housing with a private landlord. There are 2,015,000 units owned by private landlords and 30% of their rental income comes from the federal government and our taxes. This means that so long as poor occupy their properties the government will go on spending our tax dollars to benefit private profit makers. The Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs enable more than 2 million people in 1.2 million low-income households to afford modest apartments by contracting with private owners to rent some or all of the units in their housing developments to low-income families. That brings privately owned units up to 3,215,000 units receiving continuous government funding. There are also HUD paid “Other Programs” that help prevent evictions and pay private landlords to keep tenants so that increases the private landlords by some unstated number, but may be half a million more units.

Now here is a solution that I have discovered that could lift the burden off of taxpayers, while creating high-quality, whole-life-time housing for folks who need or want it. A company based right here in the United States, called Apis Cor invented a 3D printer that can create a home in less than 24 hours. The cost to do so is around $10,000. That is roughly what is spent on the average assisted family in federal funding in a year and a quarter. But, with 3D houses the cost essentially stops there. For a one-time fee of roughly $10,000 a poor family can be housed for a lifetime instead of that fee continuing for decade upon decade in many instances. It is likely that a type of pay-it-off and own it situation would apply to many who now get reduced rent in the form of government-funded vouchers. Instead of spending their whole lives under the scrutiny of federal employees folks could pay an affordable “mortgage” till the homes are paid for and live there autonomously, and as free people, aka Homeowners. 

The land is another issue, and with nearly 50% of America’s land having been captured by the federal government there is an opportunity here to return it to we-the-people who are the true owners of it and use it to benefit those of us who need it most. There truly is no shortage of land in America and the whole population would benefit if the folks now absorbing tax dollars to the tune of $32.6 billion a year could be permanently housed for that amount in roughly one year and in the ensuing years those funds used to provide health care or other vital social services. You can see in the image below that with half the population living in the counties marked in blue that we really can find land on which to put families in houses.

Image from user http://worldtruth.tv/half-the-country-lives-in-these-counties/ 

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Trump: Join us in connecting the dots

The election of Donald Trump has left millions, maybe even billions of us in shock. Although we may be looking with bewilderment at the US today, we should remember that he is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a symptom of a sickness that is raging all around the world. People are hurting, disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at a neoliberal economic system that is destroying lives and the planet with increasing ferocity. And in their desperation they are willing to consider extreme measures to make themselves heard.

Demagogues thrive amid fear and insecurity, which is why they paint the world in such dark terms. It’s a strategy that has put right-wing populist leaders in power in an Axis of Egos: from Brazil to Turkey, the Philippines to Russia, authoritarian strongmen like Trump are on the rise. Meanwhile, many centrist liberals, like the Democratic Party in the US, have been so intent on rejecting left-wing populist solutions, and so sure of their ability to beat anyone running on a white supremacy platform with its misogyny and homophobia, that they opened the door for Mr. Trump to walk straight through. Their preference is always to maintain the status quo that has served them so well.

As dangerous as the election of Trump is for the world, we can also see in this moment the truth that we simply cannot rely on the electoral political system to save us, because it is designed to prevent the fundamental change we need. Its own survival is at stake and it will marshal all its champions and resources to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. But when we work, or continue working for change from the ground up; when we build or keep on building new ways of living and being with each other where we live; when we construct or keep constructing the future we know is possible with our own hands, rather than hoping distant leaders will build it for us, we find our true power. Finally, when we combine that with the unbending hope that has powered change through the ages, we know our power has meaning.

A 400-year-old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. Change on this scale is not going to be smooth or easy. We should not be surprised, then, that moments like this — where the establishment is dealt a body blow — become more and more common. We can despair when that blow comes in the form of right-wing extremists, or we can step-up. We are the ones we are looking for, who can and must grasp the opportunities in these crises that are undoubtedly there.

So it’s time to come together, taking time to remember the earth. Remember all the successful struggles for justice that came before us, and imagine all those to come. Remember that social movements are growing all over the world and realising the common struggle. Remember life. Then, organise. Find each other and help midwife the inevitable transition that brings forth from the ashes of neoliberal capitalism a system that works for the good of all life on Mother Earth. This is not just activism; this is our responsibility as human beings alive as this all unfolds.

This is why we are here.