May 7th, 2013 by Terry Edlin
Dysfunctional families are one of our thorniest and most fundamental societal problems. If we stabilize the family culture, we have a shot at stabilizing society. Securing affordable housing is a major stress because today’s economics make new construction or rehabbing existing construction unaffordable for low and moderate-income people. Since affordable housing is not in the cards, some sort of shared housing is the next best thing.
After parsing this problem for years, I have distilled an idea into a template that could work in any community and, as a cooperative, could be scaled up quickly anywhere in the country. I envision two worker owned co-ops working side-by-side to offer services and support to people seeking safe, secure housing.
New Community Vision, a worker-owned co-op of trained facilitators would facilitate Housing Mixers, monthly gatherings, community-by-community where people come to learn about a range of home sharing options and meet others grappling with the same issue. As people gather monthly, they will meet others that they would like to see more of and some they would like to see less of. Over time, affinity groups may wish to form households.
A worker-owned co-op of licensed social service professionals (SSPs) would support this process by helping people evaluate their options, make wise choices and settle in a new place.
The process would include screening and vetting applicants who, when approved, would be entered in a database that functions as a clearing house of information. The database would include potential residents and housing that is currently available, housing groups that are forming and may have openings, and Professional Homemakers managing professional homes. On the premise that like heals like, this model would work with difficult populations such as veterans, disabled people and ex-offenders.
Mudding through this particularly wrenching period, our citizenry is wounded on many levels but valiantly struggling to cope. Our goal must be to get as many people as possible on a fast track to healing by offering workshops and retreats frequently, widely and affordably to create a culture of healing. A consumer owned co-op of alternative and traditional medicine as well as dentistry, available to those excluded from the medical-industrial complex is a compelling idea.
When we get past this time of astonishing social, political and economic change and the dust settles, our attitudes about everything, including money, will have shifted radically. With so unemployed and underemployed, work will have a different purpose and meaning, as will money. In the future, a 30-hour work week might become the new norm, an appealing thought.
This effort must be sustainable, without a crushing amount of work. In this scheme, the worker owners earn enough for an adequate lifestyle although no one gets rich.
As this is put into place, the demand for housing will be overwhelming. Applicants could apply online or by phone, for those who choose to be offline. If applying by phone, intake representatives, working from home could screen applicants establishing a human-to-human bond on the first phone call. With thousands of competent unemployed people, a virtual army could be trained quickly.
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