A few days ago, a friend of mine posted the following article, about British landlord evicting large families, and workers with certain types of jobs: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/oct/31/millionaire-landlords-fergus-judith-wilson-evicting-families
I remember my first thought being that American landlords and property owners would probably love to do this is they thought they could legally get away with it. Then I saw this on my Facebook feed, in which a federal judge basically gutted the Federal ban on housing discrimination:
http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/11/04/3588462/federal-judge-guts-nationwide-ban-on-housing-discrimination/. I can almost see certain apartment owners and landlords seeing this as a way to not only get rid of any tenant they don't like for any reason or no reason, but also giving them a venue to arbitrarily deny housing to anyone they perceive as different, or other.
Nothing perpetuates homelessness like an eviction followed by not being able to get another place because you've been evicted. The reason for the eviction doesn't matter. It will be assumed that it was for non-payment, and will also be assumed that this was not a one-time thing (which in the vast majority of cases, it was) and you will be repeatedly denied housing. We seem to have developed a habit of looking at financial difficulties as moral failings, rather than the temporary setbacks that they should be, which makes recovery from them take that much longer. A development I find particularly alarming is the proliferation of property management firms managing apartments in urban areas, who are masters of the impersonal screening in which they charge anywhere between $25 and $50 per adult to run a credit and background check in order to tell you that you won't be able to rent from an owner that had you been able to talk to them face to face, you would have been able to maybe explain any special circumstances, and possibly might have been able to work something out. Despair is shelling out credit check fee, after screening fee, after whatever fee, searching for housing for a family, only to be repeatedly denied, even after you've told the owner/landlord/firm representative that you do have challenged credit, and exactly why. That can cause a person to give up hope of ever finding decent housing for their families. Clearly, this is not the perfect American scenario.
A successful society, to me, is one in which a person can house clothe, and feed their family by their own efforts without unnecessary struggle. Key word in that sentence being "unnecessary". There is no reason anyone should have to work two or more jobs to provide the basic necessities for their family, or themselves. But this is the kind of society we are creating. No matter how hard we work, we are always behind. As much as we say that we expect people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, we revere to the point of worship, those that not only take away boots from as many people as they can, as often as they can, they also love to play keep-away with replacement pairs. The only thing that will be accomplished is the making of a permanent underclass that can never put together the hosing and employment needed to create the kind of neighborhoods and cities that we say we want, but are not willing to put the work into.
I am somewhat cheered, however, by several states votes in this past Tuesday's election, to raise the minimum wage. Our voices are finally being heard on the issue that capitalism doesn't work if people don't have money to spend. The only way to make sure people have money to spend, is to pay them a decent living wage. The next obvious step is to make sure they have someplace to call home. In an ideal world, there would be someone to meet them halfway, especially those that comprise the working class.
Like a lot of people, I have a recurring fantasy about winning one of the large lottery jackpots. What I would do with the money, however, after set asides for tithes, paying off my own debts, and getting my own housing situation in order, is the purchase of properties for the creation of affordable housing for working class families. The price of admission to these homes? A job, and no serious or recent criminal history. And rather than locate a large number of these homes in one area, these homes would be scattered in many different areas and neighborhoods, in order to stop the bad habit we get into of isolating certain groups to certain neighborhoods based on nothing but perceived social class. (For the record, how much money a person has says less about them, than how they conduct themselves, and how they regard those that clearly have less than they do. Condescension in any form, for any reason, tells a person more about you than the person you believe you are superior to. Something to think about.) And the sheer number of ways in which this could be achieved are growing everyday. There is the simple purchase and flip of homes for a reduced price to working families, or barring that, lease to own options. There is also a tiny house movement that has been going on for several years now: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/21/tiny-houses-aim-help-homeless/14411661/ , that seeks to provide people with smaller, affordable homes. Along with the solutions proposed in my last post, there are so many ways to approach the issue of homeless families, and all we lack is the will to follow up on them on the type of scale that would completely eliminate homelessness for all but the most hardened of cases.
We Americans are known the world over for being able to do anything we put our minds to. If only we would put our minds to helping each other, oh the problems we could solve. Hopefully. One day...