Thursday, August 6, 2009

Habitat is all that

August 5, 2009
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find something to write about everyday? Sometimes my day is just boring... today I was working on some mini dream catchers (2,5"), I have discovered the only fiber that functions on all levels for the weave is sinew. I am hoping there is enough in my bag from camp to do the 10 I have planned. I will have to venture out of the city core very soon...I need to find a Zellers store for cheap meds. I did arrange with the Drop-In to put me on standby for homeless summer camp next week.
Saw something interesting on Twitter, a news clip that Aaron posted about San Diego wanting to refurbish a decommissioned navy ship, for a homeless shelter. The city has 10 million dollars to fight homelessness and anticipates the floating shelter will cost more then that. Shelters are BANDAIDS not solutions! Call me crazy... but I think $10,000,000 could buy a fair size chunk of land... even in San Diego. I have said it before and for those of you who were spared that rant I will say it again, "Give land to Habitat for Humanity". They have the blueprints, the labour, the trades people, the building supplies...the only thing slowing them down is a lack of dirt to build on. Governments at all levels would be wise to just give them the dirt, then step aside and watch the affordable housing gap start to close. We have to rethink what it means to own a home, start including condos and townhouses to make the best use of the available space.
Let us take a quick look at some options I consider flawed. City Housing: rental units geared to income, often falling quickly into disrepair, due in part to the fact that as renters, tenants are NOT allowed to maintain the property beyond changing a light bulb and only then if no ladders are required. Also the city has little interest in sending a city maintenance worker at $30 per hour to fix a housing development that they don't have to look at or live in. Raising the minimum wage: this drives up the cost of living overall and produces no long term benefit for the working poor. Subsidizing rents in privately owned buildings: again huge sums of money are going from government into the pockets of the already well off landlords. These units are often charged out at over market values and are not as well maintained as units being rented without subsidy. Tenants on subsidy are afraid to protest inequities because they can't afford to move. Governments would likely save considerable amounts of money by handing these sums to the tenants and letting them find their own housing in a free market. Why governments choose not to do this is a rant for another time ;-)
We will never eliminate 100% of homelessness (see essay,"the Good, The Bad, & The Homeless" on the WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR tab) but if Philadelphia's success is any example we can realistically shoot for a 70% reduction, using first affordable housing for the working class and working poor. Followed by supportive housing for those with mental, emotional or physical needs for such.

1 comment: