July 10, 2019
You know there’s a housing crisis in this country unless you’ve been living in a bubble on Mars for the last ten years. The New York Times has written about the lack of affordable housing several times. Closer to home, the Winston-Salem Journal has done a good job of describing some of the options for “Addressing the Housing Crisis,” concluding that “We need more affordable housing. Ultimately, affordable housing should be the norm. Every family, every individual, should be able to afford a roof over their heads in a safe neighborhood – and at a price that allows them to still buy food and medicine and save for their future…That’s the American dream.”
Major Allen Joines has confirmed the crisis, saying the city is 15,000 units short of affordable housing. And his new Partnership for Prosperity initiative has identified affordable housing as a priority concern.
At least three of the Democratic candidates for President have issued “plans” for overcoming the lack of affordable housing. Each has approaches that might solve some part of the problem; none are perfect, but all are worth considering.
Just don’t count on the Trump Administration. His Administration’s 2020 budget request proposes to drastically cut housing benefits by 18 percent from this year. Given the level of dependency on HUD for housing assistance, Winston-Salem and cities all over this country will be faced with increased evictions, already too high, emergency homelessness, and deteriorated housing, already too advanced.
More to the point, Winston-Salem, like every other city in America, will be increasingly on its own to assure that the problem of affordable housing doesn’t get worse because there’s not enough money to solve it. Just to keep things at the already unacceptable level they will have to cough up the $9.6 billion to cover the proposed cut in the Federal budget for housing assistance. Given the enormous deficit that looms over future Federal budgets because of the Republican about-face on running up debt, the likelihood of a massive infusion of Federal largess sufficient to solve the problem of affordable housing is nil.
No one likes to pay more taxes, so does anyone have a better idea? It’s hard to imagine that the 75%-80% of the population that is already housed being enthusiastic about a bigger tax bill. But that’s what it’s going to take unless something changes at the Federal level. Unless the community at large understands and is willing to resist the deleterious effort of poverty on its quality of life, nothing transformative gets done. Western civilization is replete with examples of what happens when there is too much disparity in society. Just ask the Irish about 1652, or the French about 1789, or the English about 1801 or the Germans about 1848, or the Russians about 1917, to say nothing about the Americans of 1776 and 1861.
By the way, on July 17th at Forsyth County Cooperative Extension; 1540 Fairchild Rd., in Winston-Salem, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., The Partnership for Prosperity will host a work session and forum on Food Access and Poverty Alleviation. In other words, they’re going to take a look at hunger in Winston-Salem, which some say is every bit the problem affordable housing is.
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