Housing For All: A Real Solution for America’s Housing Crisis
By: Kaniela Ing
The following article by Kaniela Ing, State Legislator from Hawaii, first appeared in Medium last summer.
Interesting read. We thought we would share.
Generations ago, Americans were promised dignified healthcare, retirement, and housing among other basic rights. Congress boldly enacted Medicare and Social Security, socialized programs that remain incredibly popular today, but its approach to universal housing never passed public muster. While the New Deal established a framework for universal housing, its mandate was never fulfilled.
Instead, Congress patched up our systemically racist housing policy with stigmatized means testing, underfunded vouchers, and high-barrier mortgage subsidies. These half-measures actually widened inequality and continued segregation into the 21st century. Congress then handed the keys to Big Banks who mowed over public lenders and drove our economy to the brink of collapse. Working people spent trillions to bail out the world’s richest banks, while their executives escaped on golden parachutes. They ripped us off.
The median cost for a single family home in Honolulu is now $795,000, which means residents need to make $200,000 a year to afford an average home in my district. Hawaii is short over 60,000 homes. Most of my classmates have already moved out of state, and I’m worried about my son’s future here. Our generation is not set up to succeed like our parents were.
It’s not just Hawaii. For every 100 low-income families in America, there are just 35 affordable homes. Only one in four low-income families eligible for assistance receives any. Those who live in existing public housing are underfunded, treated as an afterthought, and often evicted from their homes to make way for luxury “redevelopment”. More than 12 million unassisted low-income renters pay over half of their income for housing, and literally nowhere in America can a minimum wage worker afford basic rent.
Yet politicians in both parties continue to rely on the same institutions that created our housing crisis to fix it. People I’ve met throughout this campaign are tired of “affordable housing” proposals that are ghost-written by luxury developers and corporate donors. We are building for speculative profit rather than human need. We need a paradigm shift. America needs Housing For All.