This is another blog post that I made about ten years ago that I had tucked away on another server. I thought it was time to dust it off.
I agree there’s a need for low-income housing in this country but I’m not sure that we’re going about it the right way. With the exception of the elderly or the permanently disabled, I’m of the opinion that subsidized housing should be a vehicle to help until you’re ready to move to a better position. Instead it tends to permanent placement.
A recent local television news story highlighted how an upscale apartment complex was about to have a new complex built next to them. The two complexes would be virtually similar but one would be subsidized. The “powers that be” assured folks that it would be nice and modern and not “look like” low-income housing so that no one could complain about depreciating property values. How angry would you be, paying maybe $1000 a month for your apartment knowing that someone now could get virtually the same apartment in the same neighborhood for less than $200? I know I’d be livid!
Also, what’s the motivation for the person in the $200 apartment to work hard, gain job skills and advance their income only to be in the same place at several times their current cost? It’s not fair to either party. It’s also not fair to the taxpayers knowing that the difference in rents is not markup or profit margin for the landlord but rather the bill is being paid by taxpayers in the form of higher taxes. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time paying my own bills without having to pay someone else’s.
I’m of the opinion that percentages are fair. For example, sales taxes are fair, you pay according to what you spend and everyone pays proportionally. Flat taxes are disproportionate. A $500 fee will crush the person making $300 a week but would be only irritating or inconvenient to the person with a 6-figure income.
The housing market in this country is completely based on paying per square foot, in both the commercial and residential markets. So I think that (again with the exception of the elderly and the permanently disabled) we should make an effort to build smaller housing.
If we’re paying by the square foot, then there shouldn’t be the need (or as much of a need) to subsidize to create affordable housing. The smaller the housing, the more efficient you make it… Solar power, smaller, more energy efficient appliances, all keeps utility bills low or nonexistent, so there’s less/no need to subsidize them either. Provide wifi in the cost so that residents still have ample opportunities for schooling, work, etc. especially for folks with children.
Make sure it’s functional and efficient and if you want more room to spread out, then you work harder to make more money so that you can afford a bigger place. No entitlement, you work and you earn, then you get because you deserve. Principals that this country was founded on that we need to get back to.
Unfortunately (and I was guilty of this too) a young person often feels that they should continue to live in the lifestyle they’ve been accustomed to while living with their parents, not realizing that this should be their goal, but it’s not owed to them. Their parents live that way because they’ve worked hard to achieve it. Sadly, this sense of entitlement causes a lot of heartaches because it’s not readily achievable. It sets people up for failure. We need to teach people that you start small and get as big as you’re willing to work and save.
Many people look at Tiny Houses and shake their head, but I know when I lived in a homeless shelter I would have LOVED to have one of these to live in, and I know that many others I was with would have as well.
Imagine a homeless shelter being replaced with a “subdivision” of Tiny houses. You could easily put 100 of them in just a couple of acres. And in the process help people get re-established so they can work their way back up instead of dealing in depression and anxiety at the overwhelming situation they’re in. The ability to have a place your own, to keep what few treasured possessions you have, privacy, dignity. That people can make or break someone.
Places like Hong Kong and Japan have limited space with large populations. It’s not uncommon for people to live in 300 sq. ft. apartments with all their necessities. Utilizing their models, not only could we offer affordable housing to more of our citizens but we’d also be able to house more people in less space. Imagine being able to take a current apartment complex and tripling or quadrupling the number of people that can live there. You now have the potential to reduce waiting lists, people living in cars and living on the streets because they have nowhere to turn without warehousing or supporting them in the process.
Helping people, not only those who need affordable housing, but also the taxpayers who can’t handle the financial burden anymore while motivating folks to work for what they want in life.