This is being written and published the day before Christmas. While some are scurrying for last minute shopping and bargains, others who once did the same are homeless. Tens of millions more are teetering at the edge.
As the video that follows will evidence, numbers of those living on the street, in vehicles, or in overcrowded cheap motel rooms are people who work.
They may have no addiction to drinking or drugs. As the video depicts, one event – medical, a family breakup, some public policy, business, political decision or other incident beyond their control – has taken individuals who lived middle class lives into poverty or homelessness.
Others were born into areas where poverty in America was common for generations. More on that too in a few moments.
This video has a segment that specifically mentions those living in mobile or manufactured homes near the mid-point of the roughly 43-minute documentary. But notice that the majority of the homeless were living in some form of conventional housing prior to their bout with homelessness.
While homelessness is reportedly in a modest decline nationally, but it is rising in California enough to offset declines elsewhere. California – which bears the nickname the Golden State – for decades epitomized the American Dream. There economy is so big that if it were a nation it would be the 5th largest economy in the world.
There are clips in this documentary news video below from California, Virginia, Texas and other parts of the U.S.A. But chances are sadly good that somewhere near you, similar poverty, affordable housing issues and homelessness is to be found.
Why the Majority Should Care About This Minority
This video was posted about 4 weeks ago by DW, a German news media operation that reported in fine English. You will periodically hear the term Euro when incomes or costs are stated, but they also speak about U.S. dollars too. Over 5.2 million have watched this since it was posted on Nov 27, 2019.
So not unlike Seattle is Dying, this topic of homelessness and poverty are a viral issue. Why?
Because at some level millions of us know that we and/or others we know are just one incident away from the similar problems the people in this documentary face. We know instinctively that their story could become our story too. Just as there are thankfully true rags to riches stories in America, there are also solemn riches to rags tales too.
So, while it is a minority of the population that this report is about, it gives the majority ample reason to care. Note too that Anglos are common in this video, along side various minorities ‘of color.’ The forces behind these issues don’t discriminate.
But there are more reasons to tune in, to seek understanding and then act accordingly. That’s true even if you and yours never face these issues personally. How so?
The majority of Americans are impacted in a variety of ways by the underlying causes for well over 500,000 Americans being homeless. There are also tens of millions who are cost-burdened. All of these create political, budget, tax, social, economic and other consequences that broadly impact the nation.
In no particular order of importance.
- There are social safety net costs.
- These are or have become working class people that are in the stores, restaurants and perform services that we depend upon.
- Dynamics that impacted them could impact someone you know.
- While some might ‘chose’ to live this way, most do not.
- This is a problem that routinely has known causes and surprsingly has known cures.
- Noteably, there are no new studies or new laws that need to be passed. Common sense and enforcing useful portions of already existing legislation is the solution. That point will be touched upon and linked up further below.
- As property values rise, taxes and other costs of living rise along with it.
- As rents rise – in some places faster than wages are rising – those who previously could afford rent may now become priced out. It is one of several points this overall insightful report makes.
- Even some who owned but may be on a fixed income can become priced out of their homes. While we see, hear and read about that occurring in manufactured home land-lease communities (a.k.a. “parks.”) Those are tales we report, where a sudden surge in site rents – often from a new property owner – tips some residents unexpectedly into a financial crisis.
- But there are other forms of conventional housing were parallel patterns are occurring too. The DW documentary touches on that too.
Those fellow Americans are, as their video depicts, care givers or workers in various fields. As those living in areas near where the homeless encamp know, health and safety issues sprout up as well.
The Video, Some Bias But Much Clarity
This video has a clear undertone in a few places of their narration that is pro-former President Obama and not so subtly anti-President Trump. That said, their own DW video also makes it clear that some of those who are trapped in these circumstances say on camera, many are pro-Trump.
But what objective thinkers ought to recognize is that these problems span Democratic and Republican administrations. These are decades-old issues.
Put differently, the video offers tremendous insights. What weaknesses – chaff – it has should be separated from the copious wheat that the documentary offers.
The Carpenters Index
We recently reported on the so-called Carpenters Index from American Enterprise Institute (AEI). That report is linked below so all can obtain a deeper understanding of their thesis. In a phrase to make the point for now, the AEI index says what their name implies. Can a carpenter or other middle class worker afford what kind of housing in a specific part of the country? Can a carpenter afford the new house he or she may be building?
MHProNews noted above that these problems have clear causes and solutions. Among the news tips and topical suggestions that came in yesterday was one from California, that linked to a news item that tossed their Governor Gavin Newsome (D) under the proverbial bus for not keeping his campaign promise to address the rising tide of homelessness in his state. Newsome in turn is blaming the Trump Adminstration for not doing more. So the blame game goes on.
But as a recent report linked above reflected, there are partisans among both major parties that have recognized that some common causes to these issues exist.
The Congress, after considering experts, research and insights passed laws in 2000 and 2008 to deal with such issues. Other than regular and attentive readers here, it may be surprising to many to hear that Congress already passed laws to deal with housing affordability. Perhaps one reason why that is surprising is this. Those useful provisions in federal law are routinely being under-enforced or are otherwise thwarted or perverted. Those laws were passed by widely bipartisan margins. The legislation were signed by a Democratic President William ‘Bill’ Clinton and Republican George W. Bush.
To MHProNews, these are not partisan talking points, but lived realities that have clear causes and cures.
Hertigage Foundation and others reported a few years ago hit an issue that was raised in this DW video above. Namely, that Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson (“LBJ”) started a “War on Poverty” now over 50 years ago. After decades of spending, poverty rates have continued to rise and fall with economic and other issues.
MHProNews and our sister site have spent years reviewing other researchers studies that spent decades probing these issues.
After considering the findings of Congress – that also looked at similar or the same data and studies we’ve reviewed – let’s emphasize that may be a surprising discovery to many occurs. The core causes and cures are well known. Laws with useful provisions were enacted by widely bipartisan support to deal with these issues. Encouraging the placement of manufactured homes were routinely part of those findings. Preserving other affordable housing was too.
More recently, other Democratic and Republican lawmakers again came to that conclusion. They compared multifamily housing development cost vs. manufactured home developing costs. Manufactured homes were far lower in cost, which means affordable housing is enhanced. Redevelopment of manufactured home communities is also less costly, they found, than redevelopment of multi-family properties.
As the Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton’s research for the National Association of Realtors reported in 2018, the quality of manufactured homes is far better and more durable than most realize. Prejudice and misinformation are significant issues. She framed her comments in a way – using the bogeyman of windstorms – that is likewise surprising, but easy to document. See that link above or this one with an exclusive comment from a National Weather Service expert to learn more about manufactured homes and windstorms.
The bottom line is this. Reports like this DW video raise vexing issues that are real. The solutions are known. Why are solutions being frustrated? Who benefits from diverting or thwarting good existing laws?
See the related reports linked herein and below the byline and notices for more.
While there are several specific events we could point to, a more detailed snapshot of this vexing scenario is found below.
It’s the day before Christmas. What will we be writing about a year from now? Will people of good will read, learn and then demand action that results in good laws being enforced so that minority and majorities are both protected?
The 5 page PowerPoint linked here was presented during the FHFA’s virtual listening session on 12.12.2019. A related report is linked here and below.
That’s today’s first installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)
(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.