Tuesday, October 13, 2020

SHELTER :: Thinking about homelessness and how to change this problem.

Homelessness is a hard thing to endure.  

Depending on your chosen non-profit, the focus can be on missions, tent cities, Section 8, low-income housing options, non-Christian shelters, legal issues, public safety issues, crime, addictions, and other topics.

I don't think home ownership is ever considered.

I think it is a better solution because it allows the people involved to stabilize.  Once there is a permanent home, other problems can be dealt with.  The cycle of homelessness is caused by a variety of problems that take time to overcome.  Income ( or the lack of it) and addiction are two of the main ones.

The government systems are really subsidies for developers, for non-profits, for communities, and others involved in the "solution" process.  When someone lives in low-income housing, it is usually priced at 30% of the income of the resident, and the government pays the rest as a subsidy (according to market value, I think).  That is my understanding of the process, in its simplest terms. 

Housing developers get special loans and tax breaks, I think.  I understand they have to agree to remain as low-income housing for a certain number of years.  I have been thinking about this "opportunity" for builders off-and-on since living in housing units many years ago.  I assume the receive the subsidy rent payments.  I wonder if the land prices rise.  I wonder how much they make on a government contract.  I wonder about tax breaks.

I also know that governments take properties and houses and businesses for a variety of reasons.  Maybe back taxes, drug-related seizures, abandoned and zombie properties -- I'm not sure what else they can legally do to obtain properties.

With so much need for housing, and so many people forced out into the streets by their economic issues and other problems, it seemed to me homeless problems could become better through ownership options for as many as possible.

Using the 30% formula for low-income programs already in place, ownership programs would be able to achieve that stability need and long-term changes in those who participate.

Unused properties owned by governments can be used to make the homes (or sites for homes) within the program.

The community outreach would remain part of the government's homeless solutions as one resident owner becomes a property seller to a future second homeless resident owner, continuing into the future for as long as the property exists.  In time, the growth of ownership properties would continue to be solutions for those who will be homeless in the future.

I remember checking into the Portland (Oregon) homeless problem.  To share the concept, this is an estimate example... I don't recall the exact numbers from when I was exploring the problem.  I do remember they would need about 5000 beds every night to meet the needs at that time, but all the shelters totaled about one-fifth of what was needed... maybe a quarter of the need.  All the other homeless individuals and families were left to fend for themselves in hostile urban spaces.

Some lived in cars and needed safe and permanent places to park.

Some 'couch-surfed" anywhere they could.

Most tried to find a safe (and secret) space to store their limited belongings and sleep without a lot of fear.

Teens had less options than adults; singles had more options than couples or families.

In my eyes, there were more solutions available, but no way to make them available.  Parking garages, top floors, could become places for the homeless in cars to park...with adaptations for the safety of all.  

Now we have Tiny Homes, Container homes, Van conversions, Bus conversions, Habitat for Humanity options, Urban and Rural options, Coop options, Trail options, and more.

Some communities have tried small parking lot placements for homeless people in cars and other vehicles... calling on churches to be the overseers of the living situations.

Some individuals have tried to offer people they know a place in their driveways.  There seems to be laws against helping friends and family in urban areas.  It becomes a crime to care.

Rental properties are the same way.  You cannot even help your children when they are in need of shelter.  You risk being evicted yourself.

Everyone has their own ideas of what is acceptable for intervening on behalf of the homeless.

I just wanted to find one place to call my own. A permanent place. One that I could start to build a future on/with. 

Ownership is really the only option for permanence.

A permanent solution will probably require the government because few people care enough about their needs. Public issues associated with homelessness are the main motivation for the government, not concern for the people involved.  How to make a program that can continue to grow to meet the needs of a community is the bigger focus.  For Portland (Oregon) we would have that goal of 5000 options for every night.

All the money spent on subsidies can be used to start a different kind of solution, which can be built up as each budget cycle occurs.  The government would help create the new homes on empty lots, rehab abandoned homes - using Habitat for Humanity programs to help with the process, which teaches the new owners how to do basic construction and remodeling, KOA-type facilities can be made for people in cars and vans and small RV's - which offer small stores and laundries and utilities and space for gardens and access to other resources, parking garages can be reworked into safe options for homeless parking spots -- with added surveillance equipment and security guards and possibly separate entry and exit options, and a new permanent department for overseeing these changes.

My idea of a permanent home ownership program operated by the government, or anyone interested in providing this option for their community, would be to think in terms of years, not months. The same fifteen-year mortgage can apply to this type of ownership program.  The only difference is that the payments are attached to income, not the loan amount.  It becomes a way to build for a future traditional mortgage.

On the way, those non-profit homeowner classes can become the path to bigger goals for those who have a property to work with.  Taxes and insurance will need to be included in the mortgage until the resident grows their income and their goals.  This is when government oversite works best.  Taxes can be forgiven until the resident is able to pay them.  Insurance can be dealt with the same way... except it can be part of the payment, or carried with the balance.


I have shared most of this before.  I wanted to get it all into one space and share it again.  Maybe SOMEONE will find it an see the difference it can make.

Naturally, I would have done these things myself, but I haven't been able to raise the funds yet. There are lots of new Tiny House developments being created, but ownership is still not a factor.  Eviction is always a possibility.  I hoped to make what I call "demonstration projects" for all my ideas, to work out the problems so others can build them for their communities.

Maybe you can do that.

In Christ,

Deborah Martin


and more...

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Housing Alternatives

I am working on my goal to post at all my blogs and Patreon tiers more... I'm trying for once a month right now, and working towards once a week in the future.  It's a long process for just me.  

This is a long-time-coming post.  :-)

I have been exploring some trailer options this week.  Someone doing small construction has passed the house where I live with a strange trailer I have never seen before.  They had a small digger on it with lots of other space, but all I saw was a TINY HOUSE PLATFORM.  :-)  

I shared that find with someone recently, and then decided to try to find out how much they cost.  What a big goal!  I assumed it would be easy to find!  So far, no success.

I did find other trailers that seem kind of useful for bigger tiny houses.  :-)  I have them in a file.  Maybe I will try to share one or more here before I go.  I found them in a search, so I have no idea if they are protected by anything like a copyright.  I am not promoting a sale, so I hope that will be OK.  If something comes up, they will disappear.  Sorry.

I hope I do find it one of these days.

My goal for my posting efforts is to collect ideas for each of the topic blogs I have for myself and WT.  (And my Patreon page.)  This is a new effort -- this week, I think.  I tend to think about things a long time before I make a commitment to do them... so I have been heading in this direction for awhile.

Now I have some pages I created to help me.  Things are moving along.

I am sharing this because I want you to know I am starting to collect web addresses, YouTube links, photos, and other housing-related items to share here.

Here are two of the photos I saved... I thought this was an interesting design for tiny living... the platform over the cab seemed like a loft space.  I don't remember how long they are, but I do recall seeing "4 cars" as the amount of vehicle these can carry.

Before I go, here's another photo I wanted to keep as a reference.  I think this is the one that most resembled the trailer I saw go down my street.

It isn't anything like it, but it is long and flat and kind of low to the ground... which were the qualities I noticed in the one I want to find again.

This all came about because I shared that I wanted to make my tiny house on one of the large truck beds.  That was long ago.  Now I want "small on a foundation" if I ever get the opportunity to make my dream home.  :-)

These are more heavy-duty trailers for the foundation of a tiny house.  This means you can do more with them and they will still be road-worthy.  I think it almost makes them like an RV.  Maybe.

I hope to share more housing ideas I have in the future.

Until next time,
In Christ,
Deborah Martin
and more...