Becky Goodwin: ‘Home, sweet home’ for all?
August 22, 2018
"Honey, I'm home!" These words are music to my ears when my beloved has been away.
"We're home!" is the happy exclamation as a family tumbles out of a car and unpacks after a road trip.
"Home, Sweet Home," is the joyful expression on many a painted sign hanging on a porch.
Home is sweet, indeed! It need not be fancy or big! In fact, many people today are deliberately choosing smaller, simpler living spaces. "Downsizing" is becoming increasingly popular. Gone are the days when "more is better." Now, "less is more."
Home! I cherish my home of the moment, the Methodist parsonage in Grass Valley. It's a delightful vintage home of the 1930s. I love it! It's a haven of comfort and joy with my husband. We do our jobs and come home to renew ourselves in health and safety.
I have moved many times for my work as an itinerant pastor, and have had sufficient income to rent a place if there was no parsonage.
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If you have a good income, you have many choices to live in Nevada County. You can ride around with a Realtor and explore your options to buy. Or you can go look at some apartments and choose one.
But too bad if your income is low. You will have few choices, maybe no choices.
A single mom and her kids have a "Section 8" voucher to help them pay rent, but few options, and a long long wait.
A retired woman on a sufficient pension nevertheless must move out of Grass Valley because her rent was just raised beyond what her fixed income can accommodate. The waiting list for affordable senior housing is years! Yes, years!
A woman on Social Security lives in one room in a former hotel. It's better than being homeless. But there aren't enough residences like this one, so many are still homeless who might be happy in a one-room studio.
A man on Social Security can no longer pay the rent on his modest apartment since his long-time companion died. He spends nights in the shelter.
There should be no "winners" and "losers" in housing, but that is what we have in our country today, and it's especially tough in Nevada County. And even those of us who have a place to live are losers, for we are all paying for this injustice with our integrity and our dollars (Think ER visits, police and court costs, addiction rehab and relapses, public disruptions of many kinds). We all lose by not being able to enjoy a fair housing system, so that we might benefit from the talents and skills and knowledge of the homeless, who are currently preoccupied with survival.
Charities, government agencies and churches are all doing a lot to respond to the suffering, but lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest reasons people are on the streets, or in the woods, or in their cars, or if they are lucky, sleeping on the couch in someone's place.
One thing would help a lot: that people with property would consider letting it be leased or rented for housing solutions. We need to get people out of emergency shelters and into more permanent housing. People with mental health problems and addiction issues get better faster when they have a little place to call home. People with low incomes can contribute more to their own cost of living when the rent is reasonable.
Nevada County has a program for this! It's called "Bridges 2 Housing." This program coordinates with all the local service providers that many of us already know and support: Hospitality House, Salvation Army, Turning Point, and many more excellent nonprofit organizations that are addressing housing needs of all kinds, for no two homeless persons or families have the same story.
There are plenty of known solutions to lack of affordable housing. The social workers know what to do!
What's missing? Houses and apartments! That's it! In Nevada County, "Bridges 2 Housing" has funds to establish master leases, double deposits and guaranteed rent payments. Tenants are fully resourced by mental health and social services.
Do you or a friend or family member have a house or an apartment vacant or coming vacant? Be a part of the solution to homelessness in Nevada County! Contact Advocates for Mentally Ill Housing, or Brendan Phillips at Nevada County, or start with any charitable group you already know. They will be able to help you be part of a solution.
Each house that is added to the program will be named for a bridge in our county. We already have one house named "Purdon House." Imagine the joy of creating a network of houses named for bridges that serve as bridges of hope and transition!
Help someone else find a place to hang his hat. Help someone else tuck the kids into beds of their own at night. Help someone sleep well within four walls of safety and comfort. Help make Nevada County a great place for everyone!
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!" May this be true for all!
Becky Goodwin, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. Her opinions are her own do not necessarily reflect those of the Editorial Board or its members. She can be reached at EditBoard@theunion.com.
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