economic development housing

Studies Proving What Everyone Knows

When the 2008 housing crisis came into play, mostly rich people were surprised. They were shocked and amazed that instead of leveraging excessive debt and, essentially, opening up credit cards to pay off old ones, they were going to be stopped. The wealthy had no idea that eventually, if people had no money to pay their mortgages, then economy would come to a grinding halt. Who was not surprised at the 2008 housing crisis? Everyone else, and the reason why so many are working to change community engagement is because bad news needs to stop being stifled because the elite receive no profit from it.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a study was recently released that declared poverty was the top killer in Philadelphia. Consider the redundancy of that information: why would anyone need to be told that not having resources would cause someone to die? An eight-year-old died on Christmas day under ICE custody because of the 90-minute delay in medical care; no one needs an extensive study to be told that delaying care to sick people can cause death. Not having resources means that not having food, clothing, and shelter will cause someone to die, and those are the very basic demands for someone to live. Rising costs of living and stagnant should not require a study to determine that poverty could kill people.

On the heels of that “new” information was another study funded by the real estate industry declaring that homelessness was caused by higher rents. This was a serious study, which is intriguing because everyone everywhere has been discussing rising student debt, how much rising cost of living keeps people in bad relationships, and that wages have stagnated. Also, this information was funded by the very people increasing rent through real estate prices based on global markets rather than local ones. If the real estate industry were discussing the local income instead of their desired market, they would not disingenuously be surprised that people could not afford it.

Thankfully, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota has paid attention to the positive feedback from Minneapolis, and it, too, is working on affordable housing strategies. Often, cities stall for responses to difficult issues by putting volunteer boards together whom they later ignore, or complain about their depleting budget before offering tax incentives to “bring jobs.” St. Paul decided to take neither of those approaches and moved to directly address the issues that its citizens voiced. No one in St. Paul is apparently confused that poverty is deadly or that high rents increase homelessness.

There are no easy solutions to addressing citizens’ concerns, and they constantly shift based on societal patterns. However, allowing the production of studies to dictate whether residents are given equitable access to services is why society is generally dissatisfied. No city will address their issues with marginalized populations if they demand the voices of the elite to speak for the oppressed.

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