Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Housing Movements – Large and Small

Over the weekend I noticed two great pieces on housing movements, one in the Huffington Post and one on NPR.

The Huffington Post highlights a phenomenon that most people working in the housing space are well familiar with, “Affordable Housing Initiative Demands Action for Historic Rental Crisis We Can't Ignore”. Check the full article here: www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/14/home-matters-campaign_n_6678274.html. They specifically cite Home Matters, which you can check out at www.homemattersamerica.com. Home Matters points out that, “There’s a housing crisis in the United States. More than half a million people in the United States do not have a home – a quarter of these individuals are children. And over half of all Americans have had to make at least one sacrifice in order to pay their rent or mortgage. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of neighborhoods in the country lack simple services, such as afterschool programs for children, affordable cultural activities, sufficient legal enforcement and other amenities that make a stable, safe living environment in which individuals and their families and friends can thrive. Home Matters is a national movement that’s redefining the American Dream and Home. We believe the New American Dream is one where every American lives in a safe, nurturing environment with access to quality education, healthcare, public spaces and community services.”

NPR highlights co-housing in Europe, specifically in Spain and the United Kingdom, in an article titled, “Not A Group House, Not A Commune: Europe Experiments With Co-Housing”. Check the full article here: www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/02/16/385528919/not-a-group-house-not-a-commune-europe-experiments-with-co-housing. The first thing I saw in the comments section online was that this idea is one that exists here in the United States too. Check out www.cohousing.org, which is a national organization that promotes this idea. The latter site explains that these arrangements typically have some common facilities, are managed by residents, feature a participatory non-hierarchal structure and method of decision making. The community typically shares some meals together, and members serve the community and are served by it. It sounds very similar to the more modern iteration of the Israeli Kibbutz.

The HuffPo piece highlights the broad nature of the problems we face in housing, and how solving this problem demands action across our country. The NPR piece reminds us that there are original ideas out there, beyond the standard solutions we often hear about.  Together, they serve to remind us that while we at MDHA and the Dallas area CoC concentrate on ending homelessness, this is no substitute for a deliberate and concerted affordable housing policy and practice here in the Dallas area and across the nation.

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