Saturday, September 15, 2007

Housing costs rise; government sits on ass

Yet another story about something the government can fix, but chooses not to. I just think it's pretty sad when families in which both parents work can't even afford a small apartment. And it's pretty sad that in some parts of the country you have to make over $30 an hour working full-time just for such a small residence.

It's sad that, in some parts of America, the most working-class families are allowed to have these days is a subsidized suite they share with 4 other families. I live in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in North America, but I guarantee you that if I got to that point, I'd be so damn mad that I'd fight it. Not being able to afford a roof over your head is bad enough, but it's worse still when there's a deliberate effort to rob every last shred of dignity and autonomy people have.

According to press reports, there's some "resort" towns in Colorado where working people have to live in campgrounds just outside of town. These working folks are the ones who are forced to fill the awful service jobs to serve the very rich who vacation there. As someone else pointed out, the rich tourists rely on these workers to pamper them, yet these wealthy travelers don't want to actually live anywhere near these poor workers.

Welcome to BushAmerica and the "new economy", people.

The problem is so bad that it doesn't just afflict the poorest Americans or service workers or blue-collar laborers but also some professionals with master's degrees - some of whom work over 50 hours a week! How then can the government continue to ignore the problem?

According to the Center for Housing Policy, the number of households that pay more than half their income for housing has more than doubled in just the past 10 years.

There's a bill in Congress that would create a trust fund to build or rehabilitate 1,500,000 low-income residences, but everyone knows this isn't nearly enough, because there's millions more households that are being affected by the housing crisis (and Bush will probably just veto it anyway). So we'd like to propose some stronger solutions (which of course Bush would probably also veto, but not without looking like even more of a callous ass than he already does). A while back, I read something about France guaranteeing every person a place to live. If other countries can do it, America can too. If the United States has money to waste on needless, illegal wars in Iraq and on tax breaks for greedy corporations, it surely has the money to house its own people.

One possible solution would be for the government to give money directly to people to be spent only on housing. It's simple and feasible.

But there has to actually be housing. A big problem today is that almost all new housing is for the very rich - so I'd also propose requiring developers to set aside a percentage of new housing as affordable.

One fact you seldom hear about is that sheriffs have the option of not enforcing foreclosures. But hardly any sheriffs make use of this option today - often because of political intimidation by big banks. But I also think there should be a new law to limit banks' power to foreclose.

We come up with answers. Conservatives just come up with excuses. Every time they say the government can't regulate the "free market", it's nothing but a flimsy excuse. If the government interferes with glaucoma patients' right to use marijuana, why can't it interfere with developers' made-up "right" to only build homes that cost more than $1,000,000? I'm sorry if my view conflicts with the religion called capitalism (that conservatives try imposing on everyone else), but that's just tough.

To put it mildly, human aspirations take a back seat to market excess these days. I said years ago that people need to fight it, and only now are people starting to wake up. Science tells us the lack of affordable housing isn't just bad - it's unsustainable. People can't just move to the country if the city gets too expensive, because look at all the fuel they'd use getting to work. Why should people tolerate being priced out of their own community?



  1. Is this really about the mice in your apartment?

  2. I work for, a foreclosures site and have seen a huge increase in the number of foreclosures in the past 9 months. I believe it is a combination of not only sub-prime and ARM mortgages, but also the high number of people who have gotten loans with interest rates at an all time low... in addition to the rapid depreciation in some areas and the difficulty some are experiencing in selling their homes.