Affordable Housing In The United States
With the continuous growth of human population, every country on the planet are facing a problem of being able to provide their citizens with housing and give them a life that meets the basic requirements of the humans. The inflation rate is on the rise in every country as well. This does not help the governments of the different countries to provide affordable housing solutions (Aalbers). The condition in the United States of America is even more grievous as the government is struggling to make sure that all of the people have a house to live in. For many of the poor Americas it is still a dream to live in a decent home and a good living environment is still not provided to all of them. This inability to provide housing for the poor people affects the public health of the country, and hence the effects are not limited to only those who are directly impacted, but has a long lasting effect on the larger society (Nguyen, Basolo, and Tiwari). This paper is focused at the problems of inadequate affordable housing in the United States and try to figure out the reasons for this problem to keep surmounting to staggering heights.
The United States of America has a social contract, both explicit and implicit, to provide adequate housing and shelter for all of its citizens. Unfortunately, this contract is yet to be honored. The evidence of this shortcoming can be found in the high numbers of the people and families who are living in the streets. Also, there are families who have to share their living spaces with other families, often even more than one. The rates of housing rent in the country is troublesome for a lot of low-income families. The number of poor people who live in rented houses or apartments are growing steadily, while the number of affordable houses have remained unable to match up accordingly (Schwartz). The problems that entail this housing situation encompasses a lot areas and aspects, adverse effects on public health being the most concerning one.
The Housing Act of 1949 states that it is the duty of the state to ensure a decent living house for every American family, and that, it has to be realized as soon as possible. While there may be arguments saying that this contract is no longer possible to achieve, because the times and population of the country was much different when this Act was written, and almost impossible to fulfil, standing in today’s world. But it must be remembered that a decent living home is a basic right of the humans, not just in America, but everywhere on the planet (Walter, Evans and Atherwood). Despite the Americans still viewing a good living condition to be a minimum requirement, they are not met with adequate solutions even now.
The United States of America has regulations that dictate and lay down basic specification as to what it sees fit as human occupation: what are the basic and minimal standards that must be met while constructing a house to make sure that it is inhabitable for humans (Moulton). But the problem lies exactly here: most of the people belonging from low income groups cannot afford to live in these houses simply because the construction cost alone makes the houses to become expensive in terms of rent or to purchase. In many urban areas, even previously owned houses are not affordable by the lo-income groups, making some houses to remain uninhabited even though the entire country is facing housing problem at the moment.
The problem of failing to provide affordable housing for the poor people is not bound to itself anymore. Rather it has spurred chain of events that are in turn fueling the housing problem even more. The fact that there are not many low income families that can afford to pay for the houses, landlords often try and upgrade their buildings in hopes that those would attract people from more affluent backgrounds (Schwartz). This chain reaction of events, where the poor cannot pay for the houses makes the landlords to increase their rent, which in turn again makes the poor the poor to afford a house at all, does not seem to be mitigated by the government. A growing portion of the population of the country is increasingly being unable to afford a living standard that the American society itself thinks as a basic requirement for any human being, and the places they do live in, do not meet the requirement standards. Local land use policies also do not help the people from low income families to rent a proper house.
Another major problem that has hit the American poor is the surge of utility costs of essential commodities around the planet (Schwartz). The price increase of oil has affected almost every other thing and every price has shot upwards. It must be remembered that, while it is true that a poor American who lives in a slum or in a disadvantaged neighborhood pays less rent than a rich person living in a prime location of the same city, they both have to pay the same for the commodities that are used every day and are considered to be necessities (Shlay). This makes the problem even more severe as the poor people, after having to incur the utility costs, do not have enough left to take up the burden of a high rent house.
A staggering statistics may be of help to understand the plight of the poor in America: in 2013, only 1% of the low income families lived in a house that was under rent control; 17% of them received government subsidies and 15% were living in public housing, while the rest 67% were not given any aid in any form.
It is evident from the above discussion that the US is unable to provide a good affordable housing solution for its low income families and the pressure is, by no means, reducing and helping the government of the country. The government has to take immediate steps to reconcile this issue so that every citizen is able to live a life that is in parity with the humane needs of every individual.
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