A few stories to understand obstacles of people without homes
People attempting to get out of homelessness face a few common problems. I’ve explained different causes and solutions in other posts but this post is describing these people as stories.
They include suggested specific solution and then at the end of the post is general solutions.
A few scenarios:
- Person A is someone who is working and makes enough for rent an apartment but landlords deny them a rental because they do not have 3x income as rent, 3 months work history, 3 months payment for first, last and deposit or a low credit score (This is called pricing them out of housing — some call it gentrification)
- Person B makes enough to pay to the mortgage of a house but denied by double rent law (also priced out)
- Person C who is not making anything and wants to build their own housing
- Person D is someone who has additional conditions that prevent them from housing
Person A — Apartment renter
Person who makes enough to cover the cost of rent ($1500 a month) but the rental applications require the persons income to be triple rent ($4500 a month).
The reason this is bad is it excludes people who could pay for housing by creating a high cost of entry.
For example, if the rent on a location is $1500 a month then that costs $18k a year. That does not include food or medical or utilities but you would have a place safe from the elements.
I have not seen an application that does not require 3x. So because of this rentals exclude anyone making less than $54,000.
The official poverty line in the US is $18k a year but using basic grade school math (something that frightens boomers) to add up the cost the actual poverty line is around $36k a year or about $18 an hour.
Aside: The reason the poverty line is so low is so that GDP vampires in the gov pay less to SS and SSI because that increases the total GDP numbers. There’s many other reasons it’s kept artificially low including business sector paying less in wages, welfare programs paying less in benefits, etc. It’s not an accurate number if you have grade school math which boomers don’t use.
In this example, the application excludes anyone making less than $22 an hour at full time.
This excludes the poor and middle class.
What is the solution?
The solution is remove income requirements.
This is something that are typically part of rent control. If the person has $1500 a month and rent is $1500 then allow them to rent.
Person B — The Home Buyer
Mortgages are usually much less than rent plus what you pay into the house goes towards owning the house. Mortgages are half or a third of rent.
Person B is the person who makes $1500 a month and can afford to pay a mortgage on a house but is denied purchasing a house because they are deemed too poor even though the person can make the payments.
Lenders use a front end and backed ratios to determine if a person can purchase and make payments on a home.
What Is the Front-End Ratio?
The front-end ratio, also known as the mortgage-to-income ratio, is a ratio that indicates what portion of an individual’s income is allocated to mortgage payments. The front-end ratio is calculated by dividing an individual’s anticipated monthly mortgage payment by his/her monthly gross income. The mortgage payment generally consists of principal, interest, taxes, and mortgage insurance (PITI). Lenders use the front-end ratio in conjunction with the back-end ratio to determine how much to lend. — source
What is a Back-End Ratio?
The front-end ratio measures how much of a person’s income is allocated toward mortgage expenses, including PITI. In contrast, the back-end ratio measures how much of a person’s income is allocated to all other monthly debts. It is the sum of all other debt obligations divided by the sum of the person’s income. Other debts commonly include student loan payments, credit card payments, non-mortgage loan payments. — source
In other words, people who make enough to pay a much lower mortgage payment than a rent payment cannot get loans for homes because of federal lending laws. Again, they exclude poor people and the middle class.
Solution is remove income requirements plus others
Person C — No income
This person is unemployed with no income. There are plenty of reasons why someone is unemployed. The main one right now is pandemic related unemployment.
He doesn’t have $4500 for first, last and deposit. He doesn’t have 3 months work history. He’s excluded because he’s poor or because housing is expensive. He can’t get apartment or house.
There are homeless graduate students, homeless professors, homeless software developers, homeless construction workers, homeless.
They aren’t lazy. An indoctrinated person will say that. They aren’t asking for the city or state to give them something they are asking to be able to feed and house themselves. They are asking to build homes with their own hands much as the rest of nature does. Why do we create natural preserves?
He wants to build a home on public land like his ancestors have done and people have done for millions of years and are doing now.
There are two solutions:
- Let him, others and / or the city build homes on public land. He is part of the public.
- Second solution is below
FYI There’s 640 million acres of public land. If there isn’t available land there is eminent domain.
There are estimated 500k to 1 million without homes and 17 million empty homes or apartments. There are cities that are already giving empty homes to people.
Person D — Services necessary
Besides the challenges mentioned in the situations listed above this person has health or mental health conditions that make any housing impossible.
The solution is to give housing, mental health services and physical health services.
What are the general solutions?
There are few general things that will help all situations.
- Removing low income exclusionary rental (and home) requirements
- Rent control
- Unconditional Basic Income
- Opening the commons
- Provide a converted sprinter van and safe parking
- Build Levitowns
Many cities are finding these measures mentioned above are effective and are more economical.
It is MORE AFFORDABLE to do these solutions than what they are doing! And models exist for all of these right now!
A better all around solution for all scenarios is providing an unconditional basic income.
Why? Any society that blocks people from working for themselves to procure food and shelter from nature has to have a basic income.
If a society blocks people from food and shelter then that means a persons survival is dependent on if someone else needs work done. So they have a “work or die” scenario. That’s not self determination but wage slavery and reckless endangerment.
- What if there is no work? Automation and outsourcing have had huge impacts on the job market
- Or what if no one is hiring? There are highly qualified people with years of experience who have no work.
- What if the homeless already are working? There are working homeless right now. They have work but can’t get housing.
All of this to say that life is too unstable, too temperamental, too exclusionary to say that the only people who can survive are the ones we need right now. That the only ones who can have food or housing or education or medicine are the ones who we need right now. That’s draconian. That’s cruel.
Remember Rudolf the red nose reindeer? No one needed him at the time. He was different. But there came a time when his skills were needed.
Imagine a society that throws people into the freezing cold weather if their skills are unneeded. Santa doesn’t use money but if he did he gave Rudolf a basic income. If Rudolf was human in our society he would be on the street in dangerous situation (4 people experiencing homelessness in LA die everyday).
The point is that people should be given the freedom, access and resources to be able to survive whether there is work or not. Let’s say there isn’t work in the future. Your survival should not be dependent on if someone else needs work done.
Any society that blocks people from allowing them to provide for themselves through their own hands needs a basic income. That means that any society that blocks citizens from the commons needs a basic income.
Not having food and shelter is painful. No one would chose to be poor or hungry or homeless.
This quote is taken from a summary on the book Utopia by Sir Thomas Moore in old England:
…his point about not wanting to be counselor to a king, Hythloday describes a dinner he once attended in England with Cardinal Morton, who was then Chancellor to Henry VII.
At this dinner was a lawyer who begins, in intelligent discourse to support the policy of capital punishment for the crime of theft, and yet expresses amazement that so many continued to steal.
Hythloday speaks up, exclaiming that the lawyer should not be surprised, since capital punishment of thieves “is contrary to justice and of no benefit to the public.”
He claims that capital punishment is at once too harsh a penalty and not a good deterrent. Theft does not deserve death, and death will not stop a person from stealing in order to put food on his table. A far better policy, Hythloday advocates, would simply be to make sure that everyone has enough to eat.
The lawyer responds that such is already the case — men can choose to work or they can choose to steal.
Hythloday disagrees, outlining a number of social, political, and economic realities that in fact produce a never-ending stream of thieves.
First, maintaining a standing army creates a population of soldiers who in bad times make very good and cold-blooded thieves.
Second, exploitative nobles barely allow peasants to survive without resorting to banditry.
Finally, the “enclosure movement,” which transforms arable land into private pastures, steals peasants’ livelihoods while simultaneously creating an oligopoly (ownership by the wealthy few) that raises the price of bread and wool.
In short, Hythloday claims that English society is implicitly engaged in “manufacturing thieves and then blaming them for being thieves.”
In other words, as historians and economists have said, people in the past have setup a society that includes and/or creates poverty and homelessness. The people of the past setup a situation that is harming people now in the present, and we, the people now in the present can make changes right now to fix those mistakes now. Now.
Having said all of that…
The most vital and most important thing you can do is to talk the homeless themselves. Ask them what they need. Invite them to meetings. Have them part of every discussion. You’re not better than them. There are university professors who are living out of their car. It’s not about that. It’s about finding solutions to this terrible and preventable problem.
Get the experts and the homeless into a meeting and discuss. The solutions will be somewhere in that discussion.