One of the most difficult barriers to affordable living is the standard of living set by those who are least affected by income. Transit deserts have emerged as many developers and urban designers create suburban housing that allows for yards and homeownership, but few of the amenities the urban dwellers enjoy. Food deserts and employment challenges plague the urban poor, who live as close as physically possible to their service work and/or social services. What if the marginalized populations had the chance to design their own lifestyle complete with services without the limitations of advantaged professional imaginations? Until the upper echelons embrace this possibility, affordable housing will still fall short of its responsibilities to its users.
Poor people are well aware that they are poor, and many of them seek agricultural opportunities to supplement their diets, since they cannot afford the cost of produce at many retail markets. Therefore, community farms with specific livestock would be a better option for them, and many are capable of running such programs. Currently, many distressed communities have chickens running around not because people are “uncivilized,” but because chickens are the source of both meat and eggs. Many people who struggle with income are familiar with gardening habits but lack access to the land necessary for suitable yield. In advantaged communities, farming is trendy but in poorer communities, farming could allow whole populations more autonomy.
Working class people have the challenge of putting excessive energy into communities that can afford to pay them while lacking the energy of maintaining their own. This is how blight and slums are decided, capitalizing on the exhaustion of people who rise before the sun comes up and return well after the sun has set. If the same people were able to pool their resources and establish affordable businesses in their own communities, local governments might be surprised at how well people can maintain their own properties. This is not fantasy, but history, because many government programs and initiatives allowed communities to flourish and gain the popularity that made them targets for displacement. Not all businesses are parasitic entities searching to relieve the underprivileged of their meager resources, but positive efforts need people with resources who understand the social network of such communities.
Local governments have often addressed poverty from two levels, meaning federal or private investment, despite the fact that people who are destitute cannot participate in most of the private investment and federal programs change stipulations in the hopes of being discontinued. Without any significant source of capital, most of the funding of the households in marginalized communities is dedicated to housing and transportation between work and home. To this end, the lives of the working class are becoming less nuanced and more standardized: home to work, work to home. Visibly, more people are advocating for more autonomy to allow lives that are less dedicated to their own exploitation.
The most important factor of the standard of living is understanding that while people with less will not participate in the same activities of wealthy communities, there are still valuable components that are less understood by those outside them. Many people without yards enjoy the use of public parks and schoolyards. Despite the assumption that church is the only activity necessary outside of work, those same communities have people who aspire to produce plays, make movies and advocate. In other words, poverty is not an indication of inherent worth. People continue living their lives with or without money, but when private entities are only interested in gaining more capital, they miss out on the fundamental connection of the human condition.