“Affordable Housing”: False Illusion for the Poor

HousingBy Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher

Having a roof over your head is one of the most basic necessities.

Question is  how do get one and how are you able to keep it in an uncertain economy and where political decisions on the surface sound good but have serious undercurrents.

The new political buzz-word spreading like wildfire in the Black community is “affordable housing”.

African-Americans pay hefty prices for back room political deals that enrich the pockets of developers and politicians, and leave many working class Black families behind.

Facts don’t lie and when Houston city leaders talk about building affordable housing across the city of Houston in minority neighborhoods, but do not talk to the public about the fine print and their ever changing definitions of “affordable housing”, the Black communities needs to be upset and ask some questions.

We MUST Understand that “Affordable housing”  is the new buzz word and is being used an incentive to bring new construction to neighborhoods badly in need of new facelift.

However, the devil is in the details because with pay scales and inequality, home loans and jobs available in the Black community at an all-time low, greedy developers are lurking in the shadows to profit from the deals they can make on land in these areas.

Who are those political friends and developers working for?

Not for that single mom with kids, or dad struggling with bad credit, a low paying job or the general poor.

The real truth is in the numbers.

Statistics from Black Demographics indicate that as of 2009, 43.6 million Americans are living in poverty. The official poverty threshold is $21,756 annually for families having two adults and two children (for a family of 4). That threshold increases is based on a family paying for food, clothing, shelter, utilities and medical expenditures, in which it is raised to a threshold rate of $29,602. (2009).

For African Americans, the poverty rate increased in 2009 to 25.8-percent or about 9.9 million.

The unemployment rate for Blacks in America is at 2.9 million and is 16-percent of the total unemployment statistics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11.5-percent of African Americans live in government housing or Section 8 housing, while 13.6-percent receive TANF cash assistance (formerly referred to as welfare checks). Just over 25-percent of African Americans receive SNAP benefits formerly known as Food Stamps.  The largest benefit received by Blacks is Medicaid health insurance, which mostly consists of children.

Black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother have the highest rate of poverty at 47.5-percent compared to only 8.4-percent of married-couple Black families.

These same families who pay more than 30-percent of their income for housing struggle and may have difficulty affording even basic necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

Also, about 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50-percent of their annual incomes for some form of housing.

That means a family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere.

 We MUST Understand that “Affordable housing” is not for the poor or the disadvantaged.

The words are like seeing a mirage in the desert. You look up through the heat waves and want to believe their is water and shade is near only to find out that what you thought you saw is not really there.

The poor cannot find a place to live with a reasonable rent rate or even purchase what is deemed new “affordable housing” in the community because they just can’t afford it.

To make units affordable, estimated rents for housing should always be below the regular market rent in challenged areas, thus helping to increase access and income of the residents.

The next a city councilman or housing developer talks about building “affordable housing”, ask him about the numbers and then challenge him tell you what he is really doing to African-American community.

“Affordable housing” is putting lipstick on a pig. You may put a nice costume on the pig, but it is still a pig.

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