According to a new study out of Harvard University, a record 20.2 million Americans were forced to spend more than half of their incomes in 2010, just on housing. According to most financial experts, any household that spends more than 30% of its income on housing is considered to be in trouble. But the number of Americans who are spending 50% or more on housing grew by 2.3 million since the Bush Recession began in 2007.
When half of someone’s income is going to housing, that means there’s barely any money left over for people to afford health insurance, gas, education, food, clothes, and other basic essentials. Americans like to think they live in a free nation, but as Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “Necessitous men are not free men.” If you’re hungry and you can’t afford food – you’re not free. If you’re sick and can’t get health insurance – you’re not free. If you’re cold – and can’t afford heat in the winter – you’re not free.
Freedom depends on economic security – and it’s time we start giving working people more freedom through a strong social safety net, rather than giving transnational corporations more freedom to pollute, outsource jobs, and defraud our markets.