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.


Housing solutions
Deborah Martin (;
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 '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.

Deborah Martin

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.

Deborah Martin

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 (

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  -  ), 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

Written in response to this article ::
by Sam Davis, professor emeritus, architecture