How affordable is housing?
There has been a lot of media attention given to the roller coaster many have gone on to purchase a home. Lots of buyers throughout this and last year paid well over asking price, interest rates increased and to keep it succinct, several other factors went into the rising cost of housing way before anyone made it to the mortgage stage. Even rent has skyrocketed. Wages have not kept up. Everything is rising except wages. This is touted as “normal” during times of inflation and uncertainty…and so on and so forth. Meanwhile…how are people doing?
It has come to all of our attentions that affordable housing is not as prevalent as it once was. The great news is that builders are really stepping up to the plate to make housing more affordable. Even near my own neighborhood, there is an upcoming vote on a rezoning request to allow for the construction of new homes, specifically to make housing more affordable.
A colleague of mine recently shared about her experience at a different local City Council meeting. The agenda included a rezoning request to allow for more affordable housing. The opposition that was presented was described as offensive. People were more concerned, albeit naturally so, with things like whether or not someone would be leaving dog poop in their yards or eating the fruit off of their trees. Meanwhile, there are people who cannot share in the sentiments of the gruesome dilemmas of easements and variances because they are too concerned with their basic needs.
It came to my attention that over the better half of the year, The News & Observer had begun highlighting single mothers who struggled with the cost of housing in the Triangle area. The series was dubbed “Women and Children First?”.
Over this last year, the increased gas prices and the increased rent following moratoriums extended during the Pandemic have hit single mothers hard. One headline that caught my eye focused on the daily decision of whether to put gas in the car or put food on the table. Some of these women have ended up in homeless shelters and some in hotels. I have had my own plights in this arena. As I write this, it is difficult for me to piece together words like, “At least they’re not without shelter”.
At just one adult and one child, an adult earning minimum wage would need to work 121 hours per week to be able to support the household . There are 168 hours in a calendar week. This would leave 47 hours…less than 7 hours a day to oneself. An average commute time is roughly a half an hour…you get the picture…not possible. Not even for a single person. I’ve alluded to this in a prior writing, and want to reiterate it here: Economic struggles placed on parents causes a decline in school-aged students’ academic performance .
Poor school performance would more likely than not result in an adult who is not a contributing member of society because that individual is, 1) Working a low wage job that may or may not yield a livable wage, 2) A non-working adult because “what’s the point”?, 3) An alcohol or substance-abusing adult because he or she is trying to cope with life’s struggles, and there’s a myriad of other possibilities that ultimately perpetuate a cycle of living at or below poverty.
Unaffordable housing has a domino effect. Stressed parents, poor performing students, increased crime rates, run-down neighborhoods, decreased property values, decreased public school funding, and the list goes on and on until we have left those same children who came from the homes of those adults who could not afford housing unequipped to handle the damage done to their neighborhoods as a result of the unavoidable neglect those neighborhoods have suffered. Maybe these are some extreme circumstances to consider. Or are they?
I applaud those who can do and do do to support others. May we all count our blessings.
- Watt, Asia, “Single Parent Households and the Effect on Student Learning” (2019). Masters Theses. 4464. https://thekeep.eiu.edu/theses/4464