As an affordable housing policy intern for a Community Development Financial Institution, I spend a lot of time reading reports about the need for affordable housing and the state of homelessness in this country. It really tugs at my heart to see that there are so many in this wealthy nation that are without. In my organization I hear many stories of families, single people, seniors who are on the edge in their ability to afford owning or renting a home, and sometimes assistance is needed.
Especially here in California, one of the most expensive places to live in the US, where a one bedroom apartment can run upwards of $1,200 a month. While there are many well paying jobs, including the plethora of tech jobs, there are still many jobs that do not sufficiently support an individual or family. We can say, well why don’t these people who can’t afford it just move somewhere else. Well sometimes they do, but at the same time, do we just want to live in a homogenous city where only the wealthy can afford to live? What about the elementary school teachers, health care aids, janitors of the tech office buildings, administrative employees, retail, and service employees?
At the same time, what about the homeless? There are many causes of homelessness such as mental health, addiction, and illness. These are tough issues that require money, time, and effective policies to address. Something that I think a lot about are alternative forms of housing. I see many, inexpensive solutions out there that just require innovative policy and leadership to implement. For example, tiny houses. They are inexpensive to build, require minimum amount of land, and can provide adequate shelter for homeless. Having a home is a first step to regaining dignity. Happily, I read an article about Community First who is creating a community of affordable, sustainable homes for the homeless. This is an amazing project and I look forward to following their progress. Check them out and lets start thinking big about addressing the problem of need for affordable, safe, and decent housing.