We're going to touch on several issues related to Affordable Housing. Most people understand why the issues of affordable housing and homelessness are so intertwined. In many ways, it is the lack of affordable housing that leads to many instances of homelessness. One important point we need to detail before we can properly begin this conversation is this. When we discuss affordable housing, we’re almost always talking about the same thing. Affordable Housing. Housing, that is Affordable. It’s not a complicated idea. However, when we discuss the idea of homelessness, it gets a little murkier. What is homelessness? Who is in that group, and how we address each situation is much more diverse, uncertain and complicated. Are we talking about street people, people who are forced to move every 6 months. People in shelters. People in and out of rehab and prison facilities? Are we including whole families staying with people, or people staying with their families, or at friend’s homes? Children, domestic abuse victims, college students, immigrants? Well, for the purposes of this discussion, we're talking about all of it, and more.
Let’s start with what we can (or should) agree on. In Minnesota, we have the space, the money and the will to find affordable homes for 100% of our people. If we can just make that simple agreement, I think we’ll find that the solutions are out there and we need only put our intelligent plans to action and we’ll find a resolution for this lingering problem. We all know that in today's real world conditions, even having a full-time job may not be enough to make all your ends meet. We can and must create an all-encompassing infrastructure of support programs and subsidies that reward all people who work with the assistance they need to make a better life for themselves. We have to be able to offer section 8 housing, general assistance, healthcare coverage, legal and tax services, employment and higher education resources, and much much more.
1.) We need viable community centers to provide the basic needs of the most vulnerable and downtrodden of our populace. Without the most basic facilities; bathrooms, showers, beds for the night, food and meal services, clothing, etc., we are failing those of us who are depending on us to not fail. This is the category of people who we should be using to mark the true measure of our success in resolving this problem, and our focus must never stray from their needs.
2.) We need economic jobs programs to transition the working poor from their reliance upon assistance and social programs to complete self-reliance and self-sustainability. Programs that aim at every level of need. Teenagers and young people, disabled Americans, those suffering from mental health issues, people rehabilitating themselves from a drug dependency situation. Everyone. The Economy of America has been and will be strong enough to support anyone who is willing to work. And while some disabilities are truly too much to overcome, that number is finite and we all believe that people are always benefited by working whenever possible. As we already stated, in those instances when working isn't enough to provide everything you may need, that's the time for support services to bridge that gap for people.
3.) We need legitimate facilities which can house a lot of people, designed to hold a maximum number of people in a limited amount of space. Facilities designed specifically for working people who are transitioning to self-sufficiency. Where people who meet a specific criteria can find safe, comfortable, temporary living arrangements while they move from a difficult situation in their life to a better place. Certain floors designed for families and children.
Minnesota can administer facilities like this much more inexpensively than the amount we are already spending on traditional govt. services. Run in a public, private partnership with non-profit agencies, NGOs and large corporations providing and creating a bulk of the resources, staffing and governance.
This is a great example of why it's so important for you to elect Michael Moore. No one else is talking about creating facilities designated specifically for people who are working, but having trouble making ends meet. Creating 1 location, with all the support services and resources needed to transition the right people who prefer not to be dependent on society, but would rather become completely self-sufficient and productive members of society.
4.) Now, we have to start talking about the more complicated measures that require some expansion of what most people understand or believe about the situation. In order to balance the scales of inequity in our housing market, rather than manipulating the markets in favor of the rich, we have to begin to manipulate the markets in favor of the less advantaged. (we’ll circle back to this theme again...) As we all know, the scales of equality are in tremendous imbalance. I'm sure that you understand all too well, that these imbalances have existed since Columbus landed, since the beginning of America, since the founding of the country. Whether it’s been 400 years, 200 years, 100 years, or whatever you can accept, we all know that there has been a long and tragic history of an extremely unfair disbursement of the American dream. The result of which is that there is a very real and systemic imbalance in our society between the haves and the have-nots. This imbalance will not be unmade simply by beginning a new effort at equitable distribution now. Just as we purposefully worked to allow one side to reap the rewards of this imbalance for so long, we must now purposefully act to rebalance the scales, applying significant pressure and manipulating to the opposite side of the scale. That concept must be made clear through communication and education, prior to any meaningful legislation, regulation or application of any method. The bottom line is that it is time for a fair share.
5.) To that end, home buying must be encouraged, facilitated and at times, even govt. subsidized. Rather than a capitol-based purchase agreement (how much money you make, determining how much you can pay, determining how much you can afford) we need another basis of qualifying for home-ownership. For example, allowing any person who holds and keeps employment for a number of years to be eligible for home-ownership. Understanding that moving a significant % of renters into home ownership not only solves a considerable problem within that particular subset of inequality. (lack of minority home-ownership) It immediately creates an equal number of units for available rental. If we move 100,000 families and individuals from renting apartments and houses, to actually owning homes, that suddenly puts 100,000 available units into a lower cost “renter’s market” situation. Over the course of 10-15 years, through specifically designed programs and processes, we can easily transition a vast % of renters into home-ownership. Which is quite obviously a most favorable outcome for everyone involved.
6.) For generations, redlining, and unfair housing practices, as well as cultural biases have resulted in some areas of the country being nearly all-white, while other areas of the country have high percentages of minorities. This inherent inequality and lack of diversity has cascading negative effects on so many issues. This is one of the reasons why we have inequalities in healthcare, wealth, education, economic opportunity, law enforcement and policing, real estate, political representation, and so many other issues. The reality of America is, in order to truly solve these problems, we need to integrate our country properly, encouraging, and indeed subsidizing the integration of all cities, counties and states. The result of which will be a more equal and balanced understanding and compact throughout our nation. Ignorance and lack of exposure has caused divisions to fester throughout certain regions for far too long. If we want to see true social, economic and racial justice, then we must insist and ensure that all people are always welcome to pursue their dreams, regardless of their location.
7.) Finally, the most obvious and attempted reform. Re-Zoning. We have to approach the concept of re-zoning our city housing codes with the end result of creating many more livable situations as our goal. Until now, we have only ever tinkered around the edges, afraid to actually make the necessary changes that would create the positive results we ultimately need. City officials are afraid of political repercussions, and so they daintily discuss half-measures, and ineffective tweaks. This is never going to be enough. We have spents decades...generations even, building up an unfair housing structure and platform. You can't reduce it gradually or one Jenga block every 5 or 10 years. We need a complete and comprehensive overhaul. Until then, we're not going to make progress on this issue. We need incentives for local home owners to convert their single family homes into duplexes, tri-plexes and even larger multi-home options. We need to reduce the paperwork, the bureaucracy and the restrictions to access building permits. We need to create incentives for local construction companies to help convert and upgrade these particular projects. The city of Mpls.needs to do whatever it takes to convince about 50-75 thousand homeowners to generate about 200-250 thousand new affordable rental units on their own property. In the first 18 MONTHS!!! Because this is a win for the property owners, This is a win for construiction and remodling companies. This is a win for people who are looking for affordbale rental units. This is win for our city. This is a successful outcome and end result, which means that all the future opportunities to take advantage of this intelligent solution will be automatic.
(Trust me, you're not going to hear any other candidate discuss the need to properly integrate the country...)
These are lofty and complicated subjects to discuss and understand. The conversations are typically formatted around what people are comfortable with, rather than what is necessary. It would appear that this most recent era of social unrest has provided a unique opportunity for our nation to finally approach the subject with more honesty and candor than we have been used to. We shouldn’t be afraid to take this chance to move the conversation forward as far as possible and as fast as possible. But we have to talk about it honestly and realistically, and this may mean, uncomfortably. This requires people who are equipped mentally, psychologically, and even biologically to handle this complex conversation. This is one of the reasons why Michael Moore is uniquely qualified to help steer the country, at this critical time, in this critical discussion.