It’s an “us” problem, not a “them” problem.
No matter where you are, whether it’s Kinston,NC, or somewhere else in the United States, it is our home and our community in which we live. When a community is affected by a lack of decent, affordable homes for its residents then it only follows that issues will arise in the areas of household stability, economic security, education, health and crime. In the following weeks we will address these particular areas and how affordable housing, one of the goals of Hope Restorations, can impact our community in such a positive way. We cannot solve a problem we don’t understand and educating ourselves to reach a common goal is the power we need to accomplish that.
Let’s start with household stability.
Nationally, nearly 19 million households right here in our backyards spend over half of their income on housing. These are families, single parents and seniors. Hundreds of thousands more are without a home at all. These are the people that, given access to affordable housing, would benefit in having that critical stability and be less vulnerable to the detrimental impacts of crime, lack of education and neglected health concerns. Those numbers are nationwide, but imagine just starting right here at home and the impact on our community of addressing this issue.
Picture over 11 million low-income renter households and 8 million low-income homeowner households that pay more than 50% of their income on housing costs. Rents, mortgages, skyrocketing utilities. And that’s a best number, possibly underestimated, as it’s tough to get exact numbers on housing instability when you factor in missed rent payments, involuntary moves or extended families living together because it’s too much to live on their own. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development states that the majority of our country’s households in jeopardy are low-income. These are our fixed income seniors, our child-care providers, our retail sales people, cooks, custodians, cashiers, medical aides, teachers and teacher’s assistants. You get the idea. The people we need that do the work that keeps our community running are those being affected.
This is a number I found from 2010 (picture how much this has increased since then). In 2010 the US had 5.1 million more low-income renters than affordable units to house them. That’s a shortfall greater than the entire Boston metro area population!
So, what is this “stability” thing?
Well, one huge effect housing stability has is in creating a stable environment for children by reducing frequent moves or homelessness. Our children are the future of our communities. How many of these children are more susceptible to crime, drugs and physical/mental health issues when they don’t have stable homes? We’ve all heard the statistics on that. Research shows that those low-income families that receive affordable housing are less at risk and over 74% were less likely to end up on the street or in a shelter. Studies have also shown that homeless families who were taken off the streets, or out of shelters, and placed into affordable housing are living more stable and higher quality lives in safer environments. They are also less likely to return to their previous conditions.
This is the beauty of Hope Restorations!
In Hope Restorations you have a group of adults, most of whom identify with exactly these circumstances we’ve discussed, that are the ones using their God-given talents, time, energy and caring to create these affordable home situations and turn this around right here in our community. They are people who have made mistakes, committed crimes and paid the price through incarceration, but have found a better way through God and faith. Who better to understand the need for change? Not only are these folks making our community better through their own personal rehabilitation, but they are sharing it with others in the hopes of spreading their new found way of living for a higher purpose. There is a beautiful thing happening when those who have travelled the wrong path are now building a better path for those who may have followed suit if not for these efforts of those who have gone before them. These are our fathers, brothers, sons. Our mothers, sisters and daughters. They are our friends turning their lives around to turn their community around. That first stone has to be cast into a pond to create the far-reaching ripples throughout. Hope Restorations is casting that stone. This is the “us” in it all.
Next time we will cover affordable housing and how it relates to economic security.