The greatest lie of homeownership is that a person legitimately owns a piece of the earth. History and circumstances demonstrate that this has never been the case, especially since force and resources have proven that human beings will stop at nothing to acquire what we want. There has never been a moment where anything on the earth has not been coveted by more than one person, and society has been shaped around those wants and desires. However, because of the scarcity of “commodities” like land, human beings are beginning to realize that finite resources will eventually cause unnecessary conflict, and that some people are experiencing more acute dehumanization.
In Seattle, where housing has become even more expensive, the homeless population is rising, and while there has been considerable vocalizing over the issue, more developers are still making their way into the market. Being homeless is already a challenge, but the reality is that it kills several people during the winters, even in the relatively hospitable climate of Washington. Fortunately, even in the wealthy city of Seattle, constituents have not lost their humanity. People are finally so frustrated that they are placing bronze leaves on the sidewalks to indicate that a homeless person has passed. For some, needing the injustice of homelessness to be seen is a start on the long road to housing equity.
Ironically, in that same city, the population of color has continued to diminish due to displacement and gentrification–even at the hands of the city. While it is true that urban renewal has been a phenomenon destined to remove “unsightly” homes that “happen” to belong to Black and brown populations, some local governments have outright taken homes for no reason whatsoever. Deed theft is apparently a problem, and the city was recently caught trying to take a home from a Black family, which is was forced to reverse when deliberate administrative errors were discovered. The dominant narrative is a problem in wealthy areas, and unfortunately, large populations of color are so undesirable that even the city will work to remove them. They are not seen as human enough to tourists and investors, who want to see only themselves.
Currently, there is no right to having a place to live, and it is not seen as constitutionally required in the United States. What will have to be decided, and in short order, is whether the right to profit off of people’s need for shelter is more paramount than people’s need for shelter. As human beings, we know that exposure to the elements can be deadly, so if we wish to retain our humanity, we should remove the barriers to giving people a place to live.