In my housing class today, we talked about choices in housing, and about creating a goal in our housing search. This planning goal sounds good, but when you are homeless, living in a shelter, surfing the couches of friends, or relying on family, the problems are usually a little too overwhelming to allow such freedom. As the recipient of their grace, you are expected to leave as soon as possible...and expected to take anything that will cover your head and allow you to move on. The concept of deciding what you would ideally like to find is good for future goals, but isn't very acceptable for current needs. Housing barriers like evictions and criminal histories make the options even less plentiful.
In the materials we were discussing, our choices in housing were subsidized or unsubsidized, and all were based on renting the property of others. Subsidized housing is paid with government funds (taxes) the same way other subsidy programs are paid. Poverty households, which often include a majority of the homeless, disabled, elderly, ill, addicted, and abandoned, can only afford subsidized housing.
It use to take several years to finally get into "government" (subsidized) housing. Some of the online references I recently located stated there were waiting times up to ten years. I think it depends on your location (how big the city is, how many need subsidized housing, the age of the property, and how many units are available). The title of this blog reflects my opinion of this process... it is really a system that continues the poverty structure. With government housing, you have to BE POOR to qualify to apply, you generally STAY POOR while you are waiting for your application to rise to the top of the list, and you have to REMAIN POOR if you want to stay in the housing you end up at. In the effort to find stability, economic options like subsidized housing are critical... they are a long-term goal for poverty households...and become a prison for many.
I believe HOME OWNERSHIP would be a much better solution. By keeping the same 30% payment structure and incorporating taxes and insurance into the purchase price, government owned properties could become new beginnings for individuals and families that would receive government funds anyway. There wouldn't be a need for subsidies, the government would be receiving payments not spending taxes to help the most vulnerable and needy citizens, and the investment might save billions down the line in reduced casualty costs like crime and courts and prisons.
I will probably come back to these concepts again and again because I think the way government thinks is foolish, and the decisions that are being made jeopardize the future of our country and the lives of those who are dependent on government programs.
The poor are easy to blame in government budget crises because they don't have a voice... they are too busy trying to survive their daily hardships to fight for their rights in government decisions. A lot of the issues that are involved in poverty are intertwined, like the weave of a basket or a fabric. Changing the future and saving a family with several issues to overcome (education, job training, addictions, criminal associations, homelessness, poverty, abuse, etc.) is a long-term task. That is why home ownership is better than subsidized housing. Stability is the first step.
There are many housing ownership options available in the government right now, they just have to be applied to the needs of homeless and low-income families.