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Affordable Housing and Enlightenment

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The state should help people under the wheel and not those who don't need help like the fossil fuel and military industries. The state should help victims of market failure and increase revenue by closing the tax havens and corporate subsidies and corporate tax evasion. The state has a caring nature and must not become a power and security state or a punishing state or errand boy for the banks (cf. Bill Moyers). When trillions were given to Wall Street banks, that was "government interference in the free market."

Businesses should have accepted the risks and not shifted the costs of speculation and fraud to taxpayers. The corporate share in federal revenue was 40% in the 1960s and now is around 9%. John Kenneth Galbraith decried the public squalor alongside the private opulence in the sixties but we took the path of least resistance - magic thinking or wishful thinking - and pretended the market would create affordable housing.

Harvard professor Galbraith also traveled to UCLA, his alma mater, to urge voting for George McGovern and not Hubert Humphrey, the wishy-washy candidate who changed his opinion on carpet bombing Vietnam to peace and B52s.

demandside's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Changing the government so that it is on the side of low-income working class, disabled, and elderly people rather than being against them, as is now largely the case, will not be easy or occur overnight. Los Angeles, Seattle, and the State of Hawaii have all declared states of emergency regarding the number of homeless people in their jurisdictions.

A report on a local T.V. station in Chicago indicated that there were ads for apartments for rent on Craig's List that were in violation of a Chicago anti-discrimination housing ordinance. The ads in question said that those potential tenants with housing vouchers, also known as Section 8, need not apply. The federal government, not surprisingly, does not require that landlords rent to holders of vouchers, but Chicago does not allow discrimination against those with Section 8. From what I recall, the city's Department of Human Services is charged with investigating complaints of housing discrimination as it applies to city ordinances, but for some reason, the agency was unable or unwilling to investigate these landlords who said that they would not rent to people with housing vouchers.

On Facebook, a certain individual has a very objectionable page called, "I Hate Section 8." It is based on sterotypes and half-truths. The individual responded to a comment in a ridiculous and arrogant way. No one on this Web site bothered to respond to the original post. Even Bernie Sanders as far as I have seen has said little or nothing specifically about the high cost of housing and homelessness. Even when someone is being assisted by HUD, the housing in some cases might be more expensive, even with the paperwork that is involved, compared to some non-government assisted apartments of comparable size. The stereotype in this anti-poor people Facebook group seems to be that all individuals who cannot afford housing are lazy and have lots of children. Nothing is said about the responsible working poor who cannot afford housing or have to have roommates or some governmental assistance to be able to afford it. Many are disabled, and some are seniors on a fixed income.

Many people in this country, including many politcians and many who claim to be progressive, don't know much about either the job market or about behavioral, i.e., cultural differences and their long-term effects on brain development and cogntitive and educational outcomes between working class families versus children from middle class families. Academic, scientific research is not included in the opinions of most Americans, and it is not discussed by candidates, despite the extensive social problems of America.

Oklahoma is a red or Republican state, but they have universal, free pre-K. Parents can send their kids to preschool regardless of income. A professor from Georgetown University spends time in the state studying the program. He was recently included in a report on Oklahoma's program on the PBS Newshour. Children who attend show short-time gains over those who did not participate, but long-term gains in school have not been clearly demonstrated. Oklahoma has had an influx of Spainish-speaking children, and that complicates the research findings.

Some experts are now saying that preschool classes often put to much emphasis on academic-oriented curriculum instead of letting kids engage in play, which is what comes naturally to them.

There are some other programs for children from low-income households which are family-centered rather than school-based. Based on the finding that children with working-class parents often hear 30 million less words than do those from middle class families, a program at the University of Chicago provides communication mentoring to working class parents. Less overall words heard by young children at home also means that they are exposed to less vocabulary. They do not understand all of the words and sentences they may hear, but this is crucial for brain development and future cognitive ability. Working class parents also tend to use more controlling statements, such as "stop it," than do middle class parents, and use more negative statements compared to middle class and professional parents, who use praise more frequently. Those who believe that disciplining children at a very young age is the only value of importance are simply wrong in terms of research on communication and child development. In Connecticut, there is a counseling program to help reduce what Harvard pediatrician Dr. Jack Shonkoff calls "Toxic Stress Syndrome." Many people assume that social class does not apply to child development. This goes against what a growing body of research shows.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

What the whole election comes down to in many ways is that Republicans want low-income people, especially ones living on a fixed income and whose income they can directly affect, to no longer be able to afford to pay for an apartment and to be evicted.

Instead of wasting time droning on with attacks that may do more harm than good in the long-run, I would suggest reading the recent book by Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Wealth in America's Cities. The author lived in two of Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods and acted as an ethnographer to learn about poor residents. He tells the story of eight families who must deal with being evicted, and also writes about landlords who cater to renting to low-income tenants. The book received almost all highly favorable reviews on Amazon. In order to understand an issue, you have to do some research. This book touches upon both poverty and the lack of affordable housing and the daily, immediate problems that many face, rather than the abtract, rambling posts oten favored on political sites such as this. The practical consequences of bad policies are often overlooked. Milwaukee is an industrial, rust-belt city that has lost many jobs over the years and has among the highest poverty rates of any city. Although the people Professor Desmond writes about may be flawed, they are still human beings. The current system does not concern itself with such things as human rights or dignity or the need for basic needs such as a roof over one's head to be fufilled.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Yep states should.

Should not become?

Too late.

Already there.

Public tax money being robbed by private intrests of those who dont @%$#(*&^ need it.

C o r p o r a t e W e l f a r e.

And before it is said that the workers take no risk, why should the corps?

Wrong. Loan for the house, Car loan, Tuition, mortgage, thinking if I work hard at the company I can pay this back, retire, and try for a better future for the kids.

For those of you that say, dont live outside your means, I say pay the workers enough so they can live within their means.

Lots of other things I want to say.....not going to......not really that nice.

Homeles's picture
Mar. 2, 2016 6:19 pm

Also, you usually have to have "experience" to get any kind of decent-paying job, but if you don't have experience, or were unemployed for some months, you won't be hired, so how do you get the experience? The U.S. job market is one giant Catch-22 situation for many.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The housing affordability and homelessness area is one that receives relatively few responses on this site. I have not heard it mentioned in the presidential campaigns.

The sad fact seems to be that many people who claim to be progressive are progressive in name only. The base their views on factors such as what their parents told them over the years, what their friends believe, or in a few cases what they learned in college. What is lacking is direct experience of poverty, comments by people who do not merely write in remote, abstract terms and pronounce ambiguous phrases such as social justice. Only when someone is willing to get down into the weeds so to speak and talk about specific, real-life experiences can progress be made. I have found some apartments advertised in the classified section of a newspaper in a community in a neighboring county, where th advertised rent is cheaper than any apartments I have seen listed for the county in which I live. There may be a few exceptions here with that comparison, but I spoke to someone from a non-profit organization which provides services to disabled people, and he agreed that in cities in this neighboring county, there are apartments that would be less expensive than in this county. An apartment complex in my county that was originally financed by a federal agency, U.S.D.A. Rural Development, (but privately owned by a property management company) has rents which in most cases are more expensive than are these other apartments in the neighboring county, which as far as I know were not financed by any government agency. What is the purpose of having government financing and housing assistance programs when the rent is more expensive than it is in another county, simply because the average income and overall "desirability" of that county is somewhat less than it is in this one? The implied message for disabled and other low-income people who cannot afford to live here is that they are not welcome here. The home of the county coroner of that neighboring county according to a newspaper article was recently broken into. This is the home of a local public official, who no doubt has a pretty nice home. That does not mean that this community is unsafe; it is a relatively small city that has little violent crime and robberies.

We need people who are not so willing to spout off opinions and instead who either through firsthand, personal experience or through academic and journalistic research have facts and concrete examples and actial knowledge of the housing and income crisis in America.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Live where you can afford seems to be a simple enough solution. Should everyone have a 'right' to live in Beverly Hills even though they can't afford it? It's an irrefutable fact of life that some areas cost more than others. You can't artificially alter the market forces. Time has shown that creating islands of low income housing just creates crime ridden and economically deprived neighborhoods. Why should someone who has the fortune to be able to afford a nice neighborhood be forced to live with that?

It's silly to expect there to be any useful amount of affordable housing in an area like Southern California. Prices are high because of it's popularity. It's just a band-aid to try and create any significant amount of cheap housing where there is such high demand for land and the accompanying high prices.

Let the market sort things out. If low income workers have to leave the area, employers will either raise the pay or go to a cheaper area. Too many problems develop when you artificially go against the market. If you can't afford to pay $500K for a house, move to where houses are $100K. If you can't afford $1500/mo rent, move to where rent is $600/mo. It's not that complicated. The country must live with income inequality and it's consequences given the current political situation.

Jun. 29, 2012 10:24 am

Note that over the years it has become more and more difficult to just "pick up and move." Some people are very mobile so moving is no problem for them. It should be that you could talk to your bank or some agency and say "I want to move to a more affordable location" and they could help even if they took a small fee. We have the tools but they are not being used. See how disfunctional our society has become?

captbebops's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The problem which neither the average people nor the political candidates are talking about is socioeconomic prejudice. People in many communities do not want apartments to be built in their communities. Part of it is that renters are seen as being more transitory and less stable than are home owners. The greatest fear is that of affordable or even low-income housing. If you are poor, many would like you to stay in the inner city. Lowering of property values and crime are the fear factors. Notice how the "Bernie or Bust" people say that they don't care about the fear factor if Trump were to win the presidency, but they remain silent on how to convince people to allow mixed income housing into neighborhoods in their communities, to break down the fear and even hatred not on the basis of race, ethnicity, or disability -- which are causes of housing discrimination which are supposed to be illegal under the Fair Housing Act -- but on the basis of having a modest or low income.

How do you indicate to local politicians that not having affordable, decent housing is a form of housing discrimination, because people who fall under the Fair Housing Act by virture of their race, ethncity, disability, or age are more likely to be income-challenged than are whites, who are more likely to be middle class and can afford to rent or even to buy a home. This election in 2016 is about overgeneralization and about highly exaggerated and one-sided stereotypes. This is a more serious issue in my view than the emphasis that is placed on trade agreements. Under any circumstances, some people, due to historical, cultural, or medical reasons, will have a lower-than-average income, and will have difficulty in affording housing.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Here's what the feud and reconciliation between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson can teach us about civility

Thom plus logo Donald Trump did not invent the art of the political insult but he's inflamed the level of vitriolic public discourse and incivility to a new low unmatched by other presidents. In a tainted tradition that has permeated our history, other presidents have not been immune to dishing out acerbic insults against one another.
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