Sunday, June 26, 2016

Housing Solutions :: Investment not Subsidy

Sunday, 26 June 2016 - about 6:45pm PST

I believe it is too hard for ordinary people to affect the huge processes of the government, especially for those people dependent on their services.  I have had my life destroyed by my efforts more than once.

Because of my age and health, and lack of GOD's financial blessings so far, I have been trying to share some of ideas I would be willing to try if I had the ability to do so.  Right now I am making a larger effort to contact people in charge of the funding for homeless programs in Portland OR (PDX).  I hope it is OK to share what I wrote this morning to the Chairperson of the County Commissioners, but I thought it had a lot of useful information in it.  I hope that others will see it and think about creating this kind of program in their areas.

I included the source of my commitment to this search, even though it may cause problems with the local powers.  It is not a good thing to be a Christian in this city, and it is becoming hazardous in the entire state as well.  My focus with Working Together is to create housing for Christians... the government is trying to rid the streets of the symbols of poverty.  Somewhere in the middle are the people suffering each day who just need help... myself included.

This is just ONE IDEA, but it is really a good one and the government may be the only one willing to invest in it.  I don't know.  I would invest in this kind of program if I had the resources, and I continue to work on housing designs that will be affordable at that level.  If you have ideas or comments about this effort, let me know them below.  Thanks.

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Housing solutions
Deborah Martin (work2gather@yahoo.com)
mult.chair@multco.us;
Sunday, June 26, 2016 1:58 PM


Sunday, June 26, 2016
Hello, Ms. Kafoury...  I had hoped to be building lots of low-income solutions to housing many years ago, but GOD seems to have had a different plan.  I have been sharing some of my suggestions with as many government offices associated with the issues and organizations I know of.  My expertise comes from too many years in poverty and homelessness... the two go together as often as addictions and homelessness and prison.  Not the life I had hoped for, but I feel it all applies to my purpose in life :: building resources for the Christian community so they will be able to survive as much of the End Times as possible.  With the computer comes the possibility of the prophesied "Mark of the Beast" which will control all buying and selling and lead to the deaths of however many Christians there are refusing it... probably a computer chip, but no one really knows for sure.  I do know that I have read (years ago) that chips are already being used in people's bodies as a means of financial "safety" and fraud protection.  It will sound very reasonable when it gets here.

Why did I share this... to let you know how serious these issues are to me, and to those who believe in the Bible.  When I was homeless, I realized that was the slow demise of others like me... especially as persecutions increase.  Housing options became very important.  When I discovered the $20,000 House at auburn.edu 's Rural Studio program, I was more focused on how to bring that concept to both urban and rural locations.  The possibilities rose and then the "Tiny House" was born.  :-)   Somewhere in all that smallness is the solution for millions of poor and homeless people and families.  Urban areas are the biggest challenge, but home ownership is critical for its success as an intervention option...ownership creates stability and security and allows the permanent development of support networks and growth.  Renting is just a pause in the problems... leading to repeat cycles... over and over and over again.

Naturally, I have a zillion different ideas. I have shared some with the Mayor and Ms. Fritz in the past.  I can't recall who else right now.  I will send you a finished description when I get it done, but before I leave this email I will share that my funding design is based on the Bible... in the OT where GOD says that people can borrow their tithe, but they have to pay an additional 20% when it is returned.  I couldn't find a timeline, so I am trying to decide if the Jubilee applies, or the 7 year thing, or if the traditional 15 year contract is acceptable.  I have created a limit of $50,000 for the housing loan, but this is divided into a maximum house cost of $40K and the 20% interest payment at $8K, and the final $2K would be the loan processing fee.  I'm working on the insurance issue... I hope to find something that will fit into the 30% of income payment it would start with (based on the subsidy process the government already uses).

There are new designs all over the internet... and competitions could be created at architecture schools, or with the general public, or both, to find even better and greener designs.

The other thing I thought might be a good choice for government programs is to separate the land value from the "improvements" (the house, etc.).  This would keep the tax burden down for the homeowners until we can find a way to end property taxes.  :-)  (serious!)  With this kind of arrangement, the owner can agree to sell the house to another homeless/low-income household when they are ready to move.  The land value would remain an asset for the government, and new revenues can be applied to increasing the ownership option to those who will come in the future.

Just this one change makes housing a long-term profitable program instead of an expensive liability.  It also changes the direction of life for those who benefit by it.  The government lending program can be flexible when crises appear, and they will... they can also offer residents help in other areas of their lives they begin to want to change, like education, work, recovery, etc.  This option is especially good for disabled and mentally challenged people... stability allows you to grow past Maslow's survival stage.

I hope you will read my suggestions when they get there.  :-)  People in "high places" see the poor only as a burden.  I bet many of them would offer you good suggestions to think about.

Sincerely,
Deborah Martin

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NOTE ::  This is my first effort at sharing an email. I hope I didn't miss any of the text, or corrections that were required.  When I finish the description of other housing ideas the email mentions, I will also post it here and elsewhere.  I don't know how long my life will last, I just want to get these ideas into the conversation.  I feel they are good for an urban community like Portland, and solve the problems faced daily by homeless people.  I feel the current way of doing things is punishment focused and costs more to keep in place because it causes more destruction than necessary.  I hope someone listens.  Deb

Friday, June 17, 2016

Response to a Berkeley professor's article on homeless issues

Hi...  I have had some problems trying to respond to an article I came across at FB yesterday, so I decided to share my comments on other FB places and here... I will post the web link to Twitter later.

My copy/paste effort didn't work as well here, so I hope I got the paragraphs divided right.  The info is the more important issue.  I also hope you will read it, share it, see if your community can use some of the details with their own housing programs.

Housing and food are the two most critical needs in everyone's life... they allow you to find solutions to every other problem you have... and create a permanent network for the future.  Homelessness is a repeated tragedy... the same cycles over and over and over again because of economics, addictions, and other serious issues that don't disappear in 30 days.

Sincerely,
Deborah Martin
work2gather.us


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Friday, 17 JUNE 2016

I think I found your link on a FB post yesterday... from one of the homeless organizations I have on my follow list.  I wanted to find out what your solution to homelessness might be.  I am interested in these issues because I have been a Welfare recipient (started in 1975), have struggled with all the economic issues associated with (extreme) poverty, and have found myself homeless too many times. 

I became a single parent to three.  I have been homeless with children and without them.  I have been forced to live on the streets, been homeless in a car, and have been involved with various homeless shelters for both families and individuals.  I have been homeless in more than one state and in more than one city in a single state.  It became my focus in life and the foundation of the business-ministry hybrid I have tried to create (work2gather.us).

As the years passed, I kept trying different things to rise out of the poverty that was imprisoning me.  These failed efforts led to their own problems and often made my situation worse.  I somehow managed to get three years at a university completed.  I have discovered online options, but haven't been able to translate them into income yet.  Now I am dealing with the increasing health issues of aging.  I wish I could say that my options have improved but, despite all my efforts, homelessness is still a breath away, family life is non-existent, and my only regular income is early retirement Social Security ($381) and food stamps ($126).  If I can't raise online sales income real quick, subsidized housing may be where I spend the rest of my life IF it is even accessible.

I noticed that you have designed facilities with supervision of the homeless in mind.  I am assuming that is a reflection of your interest in populations with mental health issues.  You like smaller groupings in larger facilities, like shelters in urban areas.  I can see that subsidized housing is your solution-of-choice because of the supervision aspects it allows, and probably because of the funding possibilities.  I didn't hear much enthusiasm for home ownership because of the large numbers of homeless people and the great difficulty in getting any location approved.  I was kind of happy to see your promotion of organized "encampments" (which I call KOA-type campgrounds in my own suggestions), referring to the local Dignity Village experiment in Portland OR.

When I discovered the $20,000 House program at Auburn University (Rural Studio  -  http://cadc.auburn.edu/architecture/special-programs/rural-studio  ), I became an advocate of home ownership for all low-income people, including the homeless. 

As the Tiny Home movement took shape, I felt it was another possibility, but not as valid for urban areas without permanent affordable parking options.  Stability is my goal. 

When I was a student in family housing at the University of Oregon in Eugene, we lived in old military barracks (probably from the 1940's) that were very small.  We managed.  I have also seen old lumberjack housing in the area and through other media that was very small.  I discovered KOA camping cabins that cost about $25K each, but they were missing something important for continued living. (I can't recall what it was.)

Trying to combine small, affordable housing options into home ownership programs is my view.  I have been advocating a number of solutions from the top level of parking garages to KOA-type campgrounds with the ability to grow food and develop income, along with the building or renovating of housing that can be purchased instead of subsidized.  An ownership program becomes an income program instead of a liability (expense) program.  It stabilizes a poverty household, begins the process of asset building, takes them into the arena of ownership at a lower cost level, and allows them to begin creating permanent networking and support relationships. 

My version of an ownership program has a different kind of loan, based on the Bible and GOD's 20% "interest" for borrowing the tithe.  Maxing a loan at $50,000, housing would be a maximum of $40K, with $8K for the 20% interest as a flat fee, and then $2K for loan processing expenses.  Starting payments at the same 30% of income a subsidy would require, and a maximum 15-year loan period, payments can be affordable.  They can also be flexible to meet the expected problems of the future.  Separating the land ownership from the "improvements" (housing and other personal improvements to a property) makes it a long-term investment for the government and when the time comes to sell a property, it can be limited to another homeless family. 

Of course, I also want to get rid of income and property taxes and move to a single tax (a permanently limited sales tax of 10%), which would also benefit most of the citizens and businesses of this country !!  Until that can be achieved, taxes and basic insurance need to be figured into the payment somehow.

As a family improves their economic situation over the years through work, education, and other efforts, the payments will rise to a normal maximum and they can plan on using their profits to buy another property (if they want to).

For agricultural and other business activities, I thought staff housing options might work.  I understand zoning is the main issue with staff housing in rural areas, or on farmland here.

By moving as many as possible to an ownership program, government funds can be applied to those individuals and households that need it most, including addiction and mental health issues, inmate reentry, and disabilities.

There is also the option of crowd-funding for some families.  I am not enthusiastic about the current way funding is handled, but if there were an agency that verified the needs and made sure the funds were used for the intended (stated) purpose, that could make it an ongoing program for many non-profits trying to find PERMANENT solutions for their clients.

I hope to see these ideas established in every place there are poor people, especially for those living in garbage dumps in other countries.  Until I win the big prize in the lottery, however, I will only be able to write about them.

Deborah Martin
work2gather.us

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Written in response to this article ::
http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2016/16/14/solving-homelessness-obvious-but-not-easy/
by Sam Davis, professor emeritus, architecture

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday, 6 MAY 2016 :: Checking in and catching up with everything

You might think I don't really care about shelter issues, but you would be wrong.  I have been spending a lot of time with social media, commenting on Facebook (FB) and linking to articles, getting emails from housing organizations, and working on my own designs for affordable home purchasing instead of renting.  I just haven't been able to post anything.  Mostly, I have been trying to decide the best way to use my time and energy for all the things I care about.

Today I posted a very long entry at a local organization that deals with homeless issues and provides an income option through the sale of newspapers.  It is called Street Roots (in Portland OR, USA).
http://news.streetroots.org  -- Local officials have committed a wad of money to affordable housing and I was responding to a post about those issues.

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Homelessness is not like the needs of a sudden disaster... it is ongoing and often has "repeat offenders" for various reasons, from lack of income to drug issues and prison release. Is anyone at SR keeping tabs on the issues at the local government level? (Like vendors, I mean) How that money gets spent is the real challenge. Both temporary and permanent solutions are needed because there will ...always be a "new" group of people entering homelessness and others who will be leaving. I read that there are about 3500 homeless people in this area ... I don't know if that is ongoing or a yearly figure, but it means there needs to be options for a lot more than 3500. If there is a disaster, like the BIG QUAKE that is expected, then there will need to be temporary shelter and services for thousands of local people. Maybe parking garages can be upgraded with individual restrooms that have a hidden shower option (handicap accessible)... those who have cars can be put on the top level now so that all these details can be worked out ahead of time...and emergency funds can be used for the upgrades. Maybe the city has land, maybe five acres with access by bus and car, that can be made into a permanent KOA-type facility with separate sections for day and night workers, for families and singles, etc. Maybe it can have its own store with food stamp foods, maybe a food cart that can help residents grow their own business and then move on. Maybe it can have laundry facilities, showers, and all the things that camping facilities have, and homeless people need. Maybe it can have a work trade option. Maybe the city can build housing that the homeless can PURCHASE instead of rent, starting with the 30% of income that public housing is operated at. Tiny Homes, smaller homes, small apartments in a coop setting, and more... building toward a stable and more financially secure future. Maybe the city can build and sell instead of fund and subsidize. I think there are a lot of solutions that no one wants to think of... sometimes homelessness is the reason a business exists... like Welfare programs, it is more about job security than really helping people with what they need... no programs means no jobs. What are YOUR solutions to these problems... how do you REALISTICALLY think the government should INVEST tax dollars to SOLVE these problems ???????
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You have to search through posts like this at FB because you can't make paragraphs in the comments section... unless you copy and past them from somewhere else !!  :-)

I lived in war housing when I went to the University of Oregon... they had purchased old military barracks and made them into student housing (FAMILY housing!).  They were small.  In the NW there are still some of the old lumber industry housing units around, and they were very small.  I have seen cabins for the wilderness that were very small.  Tiny homes are popular now as an ownership option that moves with you -- they are very small.  When resources are difficult to find, small seems to be the word that everyone goes to.  We can find a way to make small houses at small prices IF we want to... but the current funding process doesn't allow for that.  I am hoping we can change the process and change the results.

My design efforts are for handicap-accessible units so anyone can live in them... which means wider doors and halls and other things.

I have considered the option of separating the land from the "improvements" (house, etc.) to reduce the tax burdens until we can get rid of property taxes altogether.  Property taxes don't work well and we need reforms throughout the country and government.  (I want to get rid of income taxes, too... to make it a ONE TAX system, a limited -- 10% maximum -- sales tax.)

A smaller mortgage means a smaller payment window.  Fifteen years is the goal.  A revolving fund will encourage everyone to pay as fast as they can.  Instead of an interest rate, I want to make it a biblical loan fee of 20%.  (GOD charges 20% when we "borrow" the tithe... it sounds like a great idea to me... and makes a finite loan amount.)

I can't remember all of the things I am working out, but those are some of them.  Now the only thing left is to win the BIG prize in the lottery, or sell a lot of my products !!   Whichever comes first !  :-)

In Christ, 
Deborah Martin

http://work2gather.us
http://work2gather.etsy.com
http://fiverr.com/work2gather


Monday, May 25, 2015

25 MAY 2015 :: Recent discoveries - Pallet houses and more

I am still trying to figure out how to share the information I discover by it's main topic, but have only had the time and energy to write on my main blog at working-together-inc.BlogSpot.com most of the time.  Today I am trying to remember what I can and share some of the housing issues I came across at this blog.

I found a Yahoo News article on houses made of pallets, which I shared on a blog or Facebook post.  Two of the houses were notable, one that looked like a little house and another that looked like a shipping container house.  I copied them and sent the photos to two of my sons that might be interested in seeing how they are constructed.  I couldn't find a link to the  creators to find out for myself, but it is on my list of things to look for one day.  :-)  I don't have the photos to share here, but I am beginning to figure out how to share photos in the future, too.

I also found an article about an abandoned property in Texas that had an assisted living structure partially built on 15 acres.  I thought it was a rural development, but it is outside Houston and has major neighborhoods by it (they changed the photo since I read it the first time).  If you could secure the acreage, it would be semi-rural... I don't know what the zoning is, but big gardens and livestock would be nice to have on that large of a land space. 

In the major city by where I live, an acre is about a square city block.  A YouTube video I watched a long time ago said an acre is almost the size of a football field.  An acre of any crop would be a lot...but the basics for living would be goats, chickens, maybe horses, and as much food as you could grow.


Because I was not able to work enough hours to pay rent at the last apartment I lived in, I was evicted.  Now, I am taking a community housing class for 12 weeks to try to get back into rental housing.  It gets harder and harder to rent anything anywhere, but if you have other issues to overcome (like evictions, criminal records, poverty, disabilities, etc.), the choices are even less.

I think home ownership is the way to create stability in poverty households...and hoped to build a program trough Working Together to start the process.  I may try a KICKSTARTER campaign to raise funds for the effort.  I am reading about it now.

There are some young mothers in my class.  I remember how hard I tried to stay in housing and wasn't able to, and had no one to help me purchase.  We suffered so many times and so needlessly because of these same income/rental issues.  I always wanted to find a better solution.  I would like to see these young mothers (sisters) find houses they and their children could live in permanently.  It isn't impossible, but it does take flexibility and patience and someone with the financial ability to work through the ongoing problems that come with changing your life.

If you pay rent anyway, why not pay on a mortgage?   I think there are lots of options for this cause, including abandoned homes and properties, HUD houses, foreclosures, Habitat for Humanity renovations, partnerships, coop's, selling subsidized housing to the occupants, tiny houses, $20.000 Homes, campgrounds for those who like them, mobile homes, trailers, rural land spaces, rooftops, etc.  It is better to work with someone in one place than to have that person be forced out of place after place after place for the same issues...especially when children are involved.

In my housing searches, I have discovered that toilets don't have to be connected to sewer systems anymore, and collecting grey water is an achievable tool for land and financial conservation.  It may become a survival issue.  These two things, alone, change the purpose of current housing regulations.  Solar options, wind options, methane energy, water-generated energy, and other green strategies allow owners to live more cheaply and individually.  

I don't think governments and utilities like these realities, but they exist and will grow whether they are approved of by tax collecting or tax using organizations or not.

Low-income households desperately need stability as much, or more, than any other family groups. What they need that isn't available in the traditional financial markets is flexibility in their payments, no money down, and someone to help them grow into the changes that home ownership creates.

If I get my crowd-funding campaign going, I will be sure to let you know.  :-)


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

8 APR 2015 :: Finally...my first post!

I am catching up with my blogging efforts this morning...trying to find names for all the topics I want to cover, getting some posts done, and trying to see what there is to do.  It is a big challenge, a big desire, a big goal...and I hope someone else will be there to continue it when I can't.

I have been homeless far too much in my life.  Poverty is a big problem, and it takes you to places you would not like to go.  I am hoping to create decent home ownership options for poverty households at the lowest ends, like the homeless, inmates released with nowhere to go, the elderly, disabled, and young... whoever may need it, and as many as GOD allows.

I am very fond of the small house movement... ever since I discovered the "$20,000 House" project (you can search for it using that title), I have been so hopeful for the future.  I have designed my own small house plans - rough sketches based on what I know - and have been trying to decide what the minimum requirements should be for one person, for couples, for small families, for large families, and for community living options.  I have tentatively decided, but have not made a firm decision.

I am fond of housing options like HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and hope they will reduce the construction costs for these small houses.

I am hoping to create OFF-THE-GRID housing to reduce the long-term costs of ownership, and to provide for emergencies, and for environmental reasons.  I think solar and wind can be integrated for small needs, and have read articles about methane from manure as a great option for cattle/dairy operations. I don't like the large wind machines, but have a great hope for water wheels, wind mills, and small applications for creating energy without being attached to the big grid.

I think land space is essential for growing as much of our own food supplies as possible, of sharing those resources in small communities, and finding the goodness of life again. I am trying to work out the details of ownership, something that will protect the resident and also allow for repurchase by Working Together when the property/house is no longer desired by the resident, or the resident has passed on.  I am considering tenant-farmer relationships, lease to own contracts, partnerships, and any other legal format that will help people to stabilize their lives with ownership options.

I can't begin to describe all my hopes and efforts in the area of shelter. I have known what the world, the government, and the church provides... what they provide won't be good enough for the End Times and persecution.  I hope to find better solutions in places all over the world.

Naturally, this is only if GOD allows me to live that long.   :-)