I’ve looked and looked. Maybe it’s out there and I just haven’t seen it. Where is the short term housing that we desperately need? The safe, affordable, possibly short term, housing that gives people a breather. The number of people standing at the precipice of homelessness, and falling into it, numbs my mind!
A lot of innocent people are going to get hurt.
If this unprecedented collapse takes with it the shame and humiliation that is inherent in our views about money and success, then we can grow from the experience and reach a new plateau of wisdom.
A business man in an industry that has been turned on its head repaid his investors their guaranteed 20% return, though he is looking at financial ruin and considers himself a failure. So far, he does not feel successful because he measures success on the bottom line. As the smoke clears and the paradigm shift settles in, hind sight will surely show that integrity trumps money as a measure of worth. He’s got the integrity thing in spades. Nevertheless, people have to eat, wear shoes and live indoors.
Instead of yet another policy paper describing our housing crisis, let’s put together local coalitions of real estate mavens, city council representatives, housing cooperators and building trades people to locate buildings that can be quickly modified to function as short term housing to get people off the street, sleeping indoors, eating decent food and having a place to put at least some of their belongings. Then let’s help people process this devastating experience so that it doesn’t become an albatross leaching every shred of self esteem from their identity.
Tornadoes follow a twisting path, devastate most of a community, flatten houses to match sticks, while leaving a few buildings intact, sometimes right next door. This is sort of like that. The rug is being pulled from under people who played by the rules. The bankers that we tax payers bailed out lavished bonuses like it was 2007! Fairness – the illusion talks about unfairness that is inherent in life.
Although the sense of failure is humiliating, the pay dirt is in learning the lesson, healing, and growing from the experience. Shame not only doesn’t get us anywhere, given that the game is rigged, it is misplaced. A lot of innocent people are going to get hurt.
A new approach
The severity of the problem and the paucity of ideas gives my imagination free rein. I envision “housing fairs” with innovative housing solutions on offer. This could include as many different varieties of housing as we can dream up: households with room mates, households functioning as families, dormitory-type housing, cooperative apartments and any other concept that works. A dormitory arrangement might appeal to people who want a comfortable place to stay and would welcome, and pay for, meal service and maintenance.
Orphanages, which met the needs of an earlier era, are obsolete due to the wide acceptance of birth control. At this moment in history, our only housing models are designed for nuclear families, which comprise only 25% of our population. The other alternative is mostly single-person housing. This doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of huge numbers of our population. The very fundamentals of our culture have shifted radically and we need housing models that reflect our changed landscape. We cannot solve this problem without new models and we need them immediately. See 11 Reasons Why House Sharing Works.