Impacts Of Affordable Housing Crisis In America And Means To Solve It
A major issue in the United States of America is homelessness. Becoming homeless can happen to anyone, and many Americans are homeless because they do not have the financial ability to pay rent. To combat this issue, the government established a way to find these homeless and struggling Americans homes: Affordable housing. Affording housing are cheaper homes for Americans with very low income. The goal of affordable housing is to provide a cheap home for Americans who cannot pay for a home at a normal price. Although this is a great idea, many problems stem from affordable housing.
There are two different affordable housing programs that people who qualify can apply for: section 8 housing and public housing. The main difference between the two programs is with section 8 housing the government helps pay some of the rent, and with public housing the citizen pays their own rent within their budget. To qualify for either programs, one has to be a person with disabilities, or a senior citizen, and be a United States citizen, while a family has to meet the low income standards of their environment. Once these requirements are met, one who is seeking public or section 8 housing must reach out to their local public housing agency and find a home (usa.gov 2019).
Once this is all complete, the applicant gets put on a list and has to wait for an indefinite amount of time to get their help. Until then, the applicant has to stay in their situation. This process is a great way to help battle homelessness in America; but sadly, there is an ongoing crisis with affordable housing. Currently, there is an absence of affordable homes available to those who need it. The affordable housing programs has limited efficiency if there are not enough resources to successfully carry out their mission. The lack of resources force applicants to be placed on waiting list, which keep applicants in the same struggling situation that they are desperately to escape.
To me, the waiting list for affordable housing is a major issue. The average time that an applicant spent waiting for public housing assistance in 2016 was 9 months, while 25 percent had waited 1 and a half years or more (nlihc.org 2016). I strongly feel that these struggling families should receive aid sooner. These families make very low income and apply for the governmental support in hopes of getting out of their situation as soon as possible. To keep them in the same environment that they are hoping to escape for another 9 months or more is unfair. For example, PBS Frontline report Laura Sullivan had examined the affordable housing crisis in Dallas, Texas. In this documentary, one analyst had the chance to converse with Pharen Giles, a single mother living in Dallas, about receiving her section 8 voucher. Pharen states how in the last 7 years of living in Dallas, she had been employed in many different jobs and was struggling to maintain one occupation.
One can infer that Pharen and her son had been moving from place to place, searching for somewhere to call their home, before ultimately being forced to move in with her ex-husband. Despite her lack of ability to afford a home, Pharen had been wait listed for 6 years before receiving her section 8 voucher. Finally, Pharen searched for a location that accepts section 8 vouchers so her and her son can move into a better environment. Pharen is seeking to find a place in a location that can provide her a better job opportunity so that she can find a job that she can stick with. Unfortunately, Pharen was unsuccessful in finding a home with her voucher, and had to forfeit it. Later in the interview, Pharen explained that she had relentlessly searched for places who would accept section 8 vouchers, but nobody did. Pharen’s constant denial for a place to live due to her need for governmental assistance in paying rent helps support a second problem that I find in the affordable housing crisis.
The second major issue with affordable housing is the horrible social stigma that is associated with families who need to use section 8 vouchers or public housing. In a different interview yet same PBS documentary, Laura Sullivan spoke with Nicole Humphrey, a Mckinney, Texas resident who was opposed to affordable housing being built in her neighborhood. Nicole states that those under affordable housing are not at the same social status as those living in her neighborhood, and should not live amongst her community. Nicole then infers that those who are less fortunate than the people in her community should not seek to come live there, and compares that to her not looking at multi-millionaires and asking herself why she does not own a yacht like they do. Nicole concludes her conversation with Lauren by stating that she holds a stigma towards people under affordable housing, and does not want people who are “different” to live among her community. By different, Nicole means those less fortunate than her. Nicole is explicitly discriminating against low income people who need assistance in paying their rent.
Nicole does not know anyone seeking to live in the affordable homes being built in her neighborhood, but has already presumed that these people are the “different” type of people that she does not want to live in the same community as hers. The way Nicole views people like Pharen is completely unfair and unjust. The people who are seeking affordable housing wish for better lives than the ones that they are currently living. They want jobs, they want a place to call home, they want to be able to raise their children in a safe and friendly environment, but are unable to due to the stigma that is placed on them. Unfortunately, Nicole is not the first person to look down upon affordable housing applicants, and is certainly not the only one.
I believe that I have strategies to solve both issues that I found in the affordable housing crisis. First, the leaders of America need to get the citizens to be more accepting and supportive of those seeking help. Once there is more support towards helping these people, the United States needs to increase the amount of funds given towards the affordable housing programs. If a majority of the United States citizens are accepting towards section 8 and public housing, there will be less people trying to turn affordable housing away from their communities, which will result in the ability to create more affordable housing. This can be achieved through the use of politics. To me, politics is the debate of current events in a country by the leaders of that country.
If political leaders can use their platform to help gain support for funding affordable housing, the funds and locations to build will come after naturally. The support of the citizens is vital in this strategy to work. If there is a lack of acceptance of the affordable homes, then communities will continue to reject these homes being built in their vicinity, similar to situation with Nicole in the documentary. The citizens of America need to come together and be of assistance to one another. At the end of the day, we are all humans living in the same country, and should want nothing but the best for each other. Seeing one struggle should spark a motivation to help that person, instead of stereotyping and rejecting them.
Locally, there has been an increase in funding towards affordable housing in Dutchess county. Recently, Dutchess County received $300,000 in state funding towards affordable housing. Specifically, the money will be given to Hudson River Housing, a business that aids those who are homeless or struggling to pay their rent each month. Hudson River Housing will be receiving the money through the Landlord Ambassador Program, which was made in 2017 to help financially support owners to maintain a clean and safe environment for people to live in (nyc.org). Christa Hines, the executive director for Hudson River Housing, states that the money received will be used to create affordable housing and help current owners of properties make their properties better. Hudson River Housing will be receiving the funds because property owners in Dutchess Counties lacked the ability to rent affordable housing and obtain substantial resources needed to maintain their properties, said Letitia James, the state Attorney General (Poughkeepsie Journal 2019).
The affordable housing programs provide homes for low income citizens. The programs are well-thought, but struggle due to a lack of adequate resources needed to create enough affordable homes. The United States can get past this complication if the leaders can gain enough support to aid those under affordable housing. Currently, some citizens view affordable housing as dirty homes that belong in bad neighborhoods, and think that the people do not belong in the same communities as the general population.
In reality, those under affordable housing are people in unfortunate situations that are trying their hardest to move forwards in their life, but have difficulty due to their low income. The leaders of the country need to break the stigma around affordable housing and change the way people view affordable housing. If the United States citizens’ can provide more national support and aid towards affordable housing, it will lead to an increase in funds and desire to provide help to low income households. If all of these tasks can be completed, the affordable housing crisis can cede to exist, and low income households will be able to receive the help needed to pay their rent.
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