I don’t need a soap box to tell you that we have an affordable housing problem in the U.S. It’s sad to think that we still live in a society where racism exists. However, the real problem comes into play when you realize that we are also run by a government that doesn’t seem to care. So who is getting affected here, and why.
The why is incredibly important because you can’t fix something if you aren’t looking at the source. Much like the Phish lyric, “If you can heal the symptoms, but not affect the cause.”
It’s quite a bit like trying to heal a gunshot wound with gauze; you can’t solve a systemic housing problem by not first addressing why it’s even happening in the first place.
So this is a quick background of one instance, the case of Mount Laurel, N.J. Essentially, Mount Laurel wanted to use funds to develop infrastructure within the township.
However, there was a large population of poor, predominantly black residents living where the township wanted to build, and whom the government wanted to evict. Thanks to efforts of organizations like the NAACP, a civil rights lawsuit was filed against the township.
Because of this lawsuit, the township was forced to allocate sections of “affordable housing” to the residents. However, the conditions there were beyond appalling, which resulted in a second lawsuit that eventually allowed for regulation that specified that the government needed to “provide a fair share” of the area to low-income development.
The problem is, this isn’t an isolated incident. A few weeks ago, I did a piece on Baton Rouge, and the desire for the wealthy residents to split into a new city, St. George. In that piece, I spoke about the impact of the school district, and affect on segregation. However, there is another major part to this story. The wealthy residents’ tax dollars would than go to the new city of St. George and not Baton Rouge, meaning the poor residents of Baton Rouge would be living in a city with drastically lower tax-income. This leads to a lower quality of life, and ultimately a degradation living conditions.
This, combined with a large number of wealthy individuals purposefully living in areas far from lower-income housing, shows that the problem is deep-rooted into our society.
One thing everyone should do is question the status quo of your neighborhood. Ask questions like who is living here, and why are they living here. Real change starts with the individual, all you have to do is reach out.
By Andrew Wasserman