Many people lead defeated lives... because they know that they could never afford to
live a good life. They will never own a home, take a vacation, or plan for a happy
retirement. They are poor... and no matter how hard they work, their lot will never change.
This situation is not isolated. This state of poverty applies to a large segment of the American
For the most part, workers are paid as little as is legally possible. If they have earned raises
through longevity or performance, their wages often may not increase when the minimum wage
is raised... unless that rate is below the legal minimum.
The "free market" does not apply to them. They require higher wages, but they are not allowed
to ask for them. When minimum wage levels are set... minimum rent levels are not
held to a comparable rate. Rent costs are allowed to go up. But, whether you are just
beginning your working life, or are raising a family... you must make enough to pay for housing,
transportation, insurance, utility bills, food, clothing, and health care. Current wages barely
cover half of these.
The result is welfare... and public housing (if you can get it). The government has had to
intervene in order to provide homes for those who have no affordable place to live. And to
make matters worse... the poor are blamed for being poor. The complaints are loud
about entitlements... and everyone feels put out and put upon, even those who have had
to ask for help.
Too many low-income citizens are paying high rent (or HUD is paying it) on run-down
apartments that they detest. These are hardly homes. And so, the class of people who do
the dirtiest jobs... who do the jobs that put their health at risk... the jobs that have no benefits...
the jobs where they are treated as disposable... are relegated to the worst living conditions.
This is little better than a slave class. And because they are powerless, they have been
squeezed to their last dime. And they have been accused... of what?... of not bettering
themselves. But we must remember... they are having to live in a world that has been
shaped and created by money-brokers... who have no interest or regard for those people
who do the work in this society. These money-brokers respect only power... and money.
If they don't HAVE to do something... THEY WON'T.
"Rent"... is paying money to allow someone else to own property. These
property owners dictate the rules you must live by, and write the leasing contracts
that you are held to for a minimum of 6 months. These leases obligate the leasor to
payment of rent notwithstanding the condition of repair of a "unit." If you are forced to
leave your "unit" you are still obligated for the total of the lease amount. You either sign
the leases... or you will have no place to live.
Real estate investors buy and sell rental property in order to make profit. They hire
management agencies to tend to them. Apartment complexes are considered
"investment properties" and will often change hands every other year or so. One owner
allows the complex to deteriorate, and the new owner writes off improvements. At
some point, the property gets written off completely as a loss.
New owners often mean higher rent. Landlords know just how much the market can
possibly bear. The trick has been... how to tap into government money... make some profit...
and then move on to another. If complexes don't allow Section 8 occupants, they may
not get renters at all.
HUD and other housing programs just support these investors, real estate sharks,
and tenement lords... while never addressing the real problem that they are meant
to correct... the problem being... that it just costs too much to have a place to
live in our society.
Housing solutions would be addressed at several levels.
At the lowest end of the scale are the homeless. The homeless people are a mix
of individuals with a variety of living philosophies and problems. They either can't
or won't get work to support themselves. They might be artists, alcoholics, or
simply depressed. But... they do need shelter.
In many ways... this is a public health issue and a public safety issue.
Programs would be established to filter through these homeless people to discover
what their needs are. Those with serious problems would be placed in facilities
similar to nursing homes. Counseling and medical care would be offered to them.
They would be nurtured back to health and encouraged to return to independent
living. However, there will be those who simply cannot function in our very
Those people with a variety of other situations and problems would be offered rooms
in boarding houses... or locations that offer a room and a clean bed.
HUD would turn problem properties into these rooming houses. Once these people
have an address and some security and stability, they can set about rebuilding
From here they could enter training programs or work part-time for the state in
ways suitable to their own abilities. These jobs might merely be picking up trash
along the streets. They could exchange rent for contracting the job of sweeping
and keeping clean a two-block area of town.
If they have drug or alcohol problems, counselors will target them to nurture them
towards entering a program for rehabilitation. Perhaps counselors would visit them
once a week in an attempt at intervention. Work and stability are therapy for
those who have lost a degree of their sense of integrity. It takes strength to chose
to detox and be rehabilitated.
Then there are the low-income class of people, who barely make a living. Some of
these individuals and families receive Section 8 housing support payments.
Many more who qualify can't get Section 8. They struggle every day.
The funds of HUD are mostly monies down the drain... needing to be replenished
yearly to begin another round of rental payments to landlords and tenement barons.
Their high rent would have resulted in few tenants... were it not for the largese
of HUD to ensure the viability of their investments.
If the monies of HUD were restructured into a fund to build starter homes for
individuals and families... homes that they can afford... these monies would be paid
back to HUD. These starter homes might be the most basic homes... one-room
cabins... three-room cabins... with common laundry facilities, playground, and
even a community center. Everything would be built-in... beds, tables, cabinets.
The owners need only provide mattresses and cushions.
The Department of Energy website provides the blueprints for straw bale homes
that can be built in a week, that are highly energy-efficient, and cost only a
small percentage of what standard construction homes cost. These homes
withstand the elements, even withstanding earthquakes. They block out noise,
heat, and cold. They would serve as a great model for low-income projects.
The project might be located on land already owned by the government, that it
bought long ago at a lower cost. Payments on these little cabins or straw bale
homes would be on the basis of a 30-year payment cycle... as low as $150. a
month. As the money is paid back into the HUD fund, other low-cost housing
could be built.
Part of these payments would go to pay for the management of the fund, and
part of it would be collected as equity. If the family moves, the property reverts
back to the HUD program, but the equity is used towards buying a home in the
profit side of real estate. If a house becomes fully paid off, the resident virtually
owns the home... in even 10 or 15 years... wherein one can truly plan for a
more secure retirement.
This program could be applied to already established forms of housing... motels,
apartments, houses that the government has taken possession of, and even vacant
office buildings. Without sounding too bold... about half of the apartments rented...
are rented to low-income families. HUD could directly buy these buildings without
relocating the residents.
But, the real estate market would eventually benefit from this program, because in
time these families could enter the real estate market... where before they could
never do so. High rise tenements might be remodeled to be more sound-proofed
and safe, and the grounds developed with playgrounds.
The program would work WITH people, not as an adversary. It would have lenient
repayment schemes that allow for temporary unemployment. Residents would follow
the mandate to take part-time work with the city or state until they find work.
The unemployed and formerly homeless would perform unskilled jobs for enough
hours to pay for the rent or home payments... paid directly to the HUD fund.
These communities might have a neighborhood board of officers working to keep
standards high and to create improvements, it would protect the fund's investment.
These would be vibrant communities where owners enhanced their property and
their community. Since HUD's investment would be paid off, it is not an issue that
these units or cabins are lived-in permanently. HUD would sponsor more. After all,
these owners are people who would not have bought real estate anyway.
Other properties could be acquired by the HUD revolving fund in such ways as
defaulted mortgages that can be bought at a low price. Apartment complexes could
become condominiums. Non of these living solutions would be allowed to be dumps.
These homes would be clean and nice... providing for the minimal needs of these
segments of society.
When people are empowered by this one single step, they will find peace and
satisfaction in our society, and become true contributors in our society. They can
plan their lives... plan for retirement... and better their own conditions.
The elderly and disabled could belong to special communities. These would be formed
by fencing off entire blocks of houses that would be redesigned into boarding homes.
These fenced communities would provide security and other assistance.
Most elderly people detest and fear nursing homes. This would allow them to live
their last days in a real home... on a quiet tree-lined street... with a garden to tend
to... with a pet... with their own TV... with daily rides to the store or malls... and
give them the dignity that is so important to them.
One central house would be converted into a community center where there would
be nurses staffed 24 hours a day as well as assistants to visit the residents on daily
rounds. Residents might get several visits a day. This center would provide meals
for the residents as well as a support system.
This non-profit program would cost far less than retirement homes or nursing homes.
$200 a month is a whole lot less than $3000. a month... paid for by Medicare. These
homes would allow the elderly to live mostly independently. Only the most
devastatingly ill persons should have to live in nursing homes.
These projects ideally would pay for themselves after the initial investment to get
them started. When the lowest segment of the market is turned into a
non-profit status... more can be accomplished in better ways.
Here is one example of an ideal family community, with houses made of straw bales.
For instance: the land would cost $25,000. an acre-- divided by 8-- each lot would cost
$3,000 to $4,000. The straw bale homes would come in a kit. The cement block would be
laid. The plumbing would be added. Heavy aluminum posts would be set into the cement at
opposing sides of the bales. The straw would be stacked and woven through the posts with
steel cables. The roof would be set. The electric would be put into tubes cut into the bales. Adobe would be laid inside and out. All simple construction that could be finished in a
To be sold at cost, these lots w/ houses would sell for around &20,000. On a 30 year
loan, the monthly payments would be around $200. a month.