by Joel Elveson, Columnist & Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HIS ARTICLE in which I will address the lack of affordable housing is the last the part of a series that deals with three of the top domestic crises that exist in America today. In the first article I tackled the issues surrounding the devastating changes/cuts to our Social Security system that were just enacted days ago and the ramifications thereof. The next article dealt with our fractured health care system. If you examine each issue closely you are likely to conclude they are all interrelated.
The Mortgage Banking Industry has been engaging in a high-powered campaign to promote the advantages of homeownership. As you scroll through the pages of a major social media outlet you see one Mortgage Banker after another pushing people to buy homes. Left out is the part that with homeownership carries the certainty of rising property taxes along with other taxes and charges the homeowner must pay for. Aside from the fact that not everybody wants to or is able to purchase home the problem of the lack of affordable housing remains.
Exasperating this situation is the fact that those who cannot buy a home or live in luxury townhouses, co-ops or condominiums are being squeezed out of the housing picture by over-zealous real estate developers who have a grandiose plan to rebirth previously decayed neighborhoods and turn them into high-priced housing units that will be built in close proximity to new retail strip malls and high-rise office buildings. The notion that these projects will also help reinvigorate these areas with an influx of new jobs must be quickly dispelled.
Construction of new affordable housing units are not consistently being built. Consequently the segments of our population that do not fit the income brackets that fuel the creation of “yuppie lands” are having a tougher time finding suitable housing. As with the draconian cuts to Social Security and our disjointed healthcare system there is no oversight or planning. The end result of all of this profit taking is that “less affluent” American are being forced to choose between eating, a place to live or medical care.
Shoving our senior citizens into Nursing Home Facilities is a convenient way of making room for a younger population. Cramming lower-income Americans into crime ridden overcrowded Public Housing Projects is yet another ignoramus solution that has been popular for a while. Trying to fuse together families with those who whose lives revolve around violence and bloodshed is not a viable option moving forward.
So where is everybody (everybody who does not have deep pockets that is) going to live? Part of this answer unfortunately lies with local governments who must not approve new housing start permits that do not allow space for more affordable housing. Tax breaks or other incentives must be offered to encourage the construction of more median priced housing that can also be incorporated into the building of single family homes that are not financed through mortgages.
Many private homeowners have transformed their basements into apartments as a means of creating tax breaks for themselves while reaping the benefits of rental income once the project is completed. An initiative like this can have significant positive effects by creating new housing. Prior to the apartment being cleared for occupancy every effort should be made to ensure this is indeed a real apartment and not just a slapped together unit that is unsafe.
We are one of the most technologically advanced nations on this planet. Our technology continues and will continue to evolve. Is it feasible (in my opinion the answer is yes) to utilize these fertile minds to help create solutions to this problem? Pumping fresh blood into a stagnated problem can only help lead to some very feasible solutions.
Yes, there are “retirement communities” that are quite elegant but those who have not hit that stage of their life will not be gainfully housed in these developments. Using that concept perhaps we can plan to develop areas where affordable housing would fit nicely while avoiding the stigma many people feel when they are made to feel isolated or not wanted amongst others.
As with the other two crises mentioned in previous articles solutions do not come overnight. Solutions do not come at all if we do not look for them.