Ken Merdinger: Affordable housing or bust
Does anyone really care about affordable housing?
Are the politicians just going through the motions to say they do, with no real solutions to back it up? How many of us remember our parents telling us that if you work hard enough you can achieve almost anything?
For those now lucky enough to own a home, too often we forget how we made that first leap into homeownership. Perhaps a generous gift from mom and dad, borrowing from credit cards, a fortuitous inheritance, or a good-paying job put us in the driver’s seat. We all have our stories. Have times changed so much that any chance for affordability has gone by the wayside?
“Why make it easy for those earning minimum wage?” some may ask. “Let them work harder because that way they’ll appreciate it more.” The American Dream is not a guarantee, but can only be attained through perseverance and sacrifice. Then there is the fear that building affordable housing will bring more crime, lower home prices, and be a burden to our economy. In actuality, studies have shown the opposite: less crime due to pride of ownership, appreciating home prices bolstered by move-up buyers, more jobs, a stronger work force, younger families with kids attending local schools, a healthier economy supported from additional tax revenue, and a reduction in homelessness.
We can come up with all kinds of excuses not to care, but the bottom line is that if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Or maybe not. I don’t consider my affordable micro-village a free handout in any way. Residents of Prospector Village will be required to put in a specified number of sweat equity hours for the upkeep of the community, not to mention qualifying for a mortgage. According to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio: “If work is honored and respected, workers feel valued; and when they know our society believes in the dignity of work, and their employers believe in their dignity of work, workers are empowered as citizens. That strengthens our communities, our nation, and our democracy.”
Minimum-wage workers are the backbone of our country. Does that mean they should have to rent forever and be subject to rental increases on a regular basis? Don’t you think they should have a shot at buying a home? Well, I do. And I’m willing to work relentlessly to make that happen.
Here is a chance for the American people and our government to get behind a cause that will make a huge difference in someone’s life. Something I know firsthand, since my wife and I are a partner family for a future Habitat for Humanity homeowner. For-sale affordable housing may not be a right, but it should at least be an option.
Now is the time to be a beacon of light for hope and change. Let’s honor and respect our minimum-wage workers by giving them the same opportunity for the American Dream.
For info about Prospector Village, please go to http://www.helpncca.com.
Ken Merdinger lives in Nevada City.
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