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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Reviving New Orleans ~ The New Touchstone


Update July 24, 2006 - The Washington Posts Mark E. Courtney reports on the condition of the nations Welfare Reform initiative and the holes where missing stepping stones should be.....

"What, exactly, is "affordable housing"? The Mayors Regional Housing Task Force, in a 2000 publication entitled Affordable Housing for the Region, defines affordable housing as "the availability of quality housing and dignified living conditions" for all segments of the population. Affordable Housing for the Region says that the economic health of the region depends on the construction of affordable housing."

Link to
NTIMC to read about the planned pro-active initiative set for July 4th...
A good hit the ground running, in your face challenge to the city leaders and the federal government...Someone is watching out for the income suppressed citizen, the common people plight and the need for basic practical affordable housing needs.

This is a
fight worthy of all citizens attention. The constant long time financial drain on any citizen, whether renter costs or homeowner property taxes, across this nation - seems to not be draining back into anyone's local economy, not in the way that it used to serve everyone (mainstream) by spreading the wealth. The money is spilling out somewhere, to someone else, some place else.

Marching and fighting for decent and
affordable housing rights serves everyone across the economic stratosphere. Otherwise, the already countless invisible homeless family numbers will begin to swell even higher and then becomes even more noticeable within many communities. There will be no quick fix and no where to go to ease this growing crisis, because of the long time agenda of the 'Reverse Robin Hood' syndrome in our bizarre-O world of today. The layers of the family and friend base that used to absorb the past numbers of homeless, has slowly been weathered away.

I recall a time when younger, a man was walking with a filled shopping cart. As my Dad and I drove past him over a bridge, I wondered allowed about his taking the cart from the store and how nice the store was for letting him borrow the cart. My Dad blurted (with sharp disdain) that he wished the homeless people would just disappear. I asked where they should disappear to? He answered that they all should just go somewhere else, away, to another place.

Even though I was young and naive, attempting to rationalize aloud..."Then that person would just be homeless somewhere else, you wouldn't see him, but someone else would and the person would still be homeless?" My Dad changed the subject with Fatherly distraction. I never forgot that moment, in time, when I came face to face with my first "Republican."

I decided that day to become a card carrying Democrat (like my Mom and her family - long ago immigrants from Ireland), until Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro lost the election. The backbone of our economy the
blue, pink and gray collar worker and the over all mainstream working class were hit pretty hard after that presidential election.

It was a terrible roller coaster ride of
dissent for average American working families of the 1980's....think American produced and made - Packing House and Factory Workers were already facing the wrath of, union busters and some American companies began happily skipping over the border and back stroking it overseas, in the late 1970's and early 1980's. So, the Mondale and Ferraro ticket held a great amount of hope for the average working stiff.

I then went my own way and became a universally-diversity driven Independent. The 1990's came and finally citizen hope was finally restored along with a host of positive pro-active initiatives and a cultivation of fair and just ideals. Ideals that 'transcended' all out greed and power by the greedy and powerful behind the curtain of commerce and above the ceiling of capitalism.

Several years ago in
Minnesota, an important law that kept landlords accountable, helped to sustain reasonable rents and helped to preserve affordablehousing, vanished out of law. It gave landlords credit for keeping rents at affordable rates, not market rates. With the laws - ordinance time line finished, it didn't take long to see the awful impact on some families and individual renters. Minnesota (the land of principled social safety nets) was the most unlikely place to see social neglect happening, but it was and still is today. Can you imagine the rest of the country?

The landlords began inflating the set rents for income eligible folks and that shoved entire well
camouflaged families into the streets and elsewhere. Single parent and married women with children, American born women and women from other countries, would often not enter the shelters because of the rules in place and because they felt they could better protect their children and themselves outside with familiar homeless people rather than dealing with the cloaked dangers from inside the shelter.

If the son of a woman was at a certain age of 12 or 14 years, she would have to separate from him because of gender segregation rules at some shelter. Same went for single fathers with daughters. There was and still is, the fear of Social Service and the power they had. The grapevine is alive and strong among those who are forced to survive on the fringes.

I met a young 'married' couple of 18 and 19 years who were about a month away from having their first child. No family or friends to stay with, trying to get work that was lost by having to move around outside and in the shelters. When they could not afford to pay their rent - that had been jacked up, they suffered the loss of their apartment - their family home. They couldn't come up with the boat load (any dollar increase is a boat load when income is fixed and cemented) of money it cost to move, nor could they afford to stay. When the rent was jacked up, the soon to be parents had to move out into the streets.

When seeking refuge at a shelter the husband and pregnant wife had to stay outside for the required 8 - 12 plus hours, in the cold of winter and in the rainy weather....Standing and walking...Anywhere they wouldn't be publicly humiliated and asked to leave or anywhere where police officer's might enforce loitering or vagrancy laws. Shelters typically have a required 'away' time and an allowed time 'inside.' There are many well hidden areas right out in plain view, where a homeless person can blend in, in public to stay warm and dry, for a little while.

The shelter that the couple were staying in had been scheduled to become gender segregated and was about to ban all co-ed services. Within days the couple would have to separate because of the shelter segregation rules about to be enforced. The couple were ready to tough it out on the streets rather than be split up by miles. Especially since the young woman would give birth within a few weeks.

Once the word got out that this couple was in need of a place to stay together, many people went into action to make sure their entire life would become stable and safe, through a safety net of services that we tax payers create. That was the "growing stronger and getting better" safety net in place, up until several years ago.

Remember when our present Governor was a state legislator? Remember when our current Governor was Majority Leader? After reading articles, a few disturbing quotes and listening to the WCCO radio show, about what his overall goal in politics are....I am truly Thankful for Governors like Arnie Carlson, Jessie Ventura and all that came before them. The ones that had that 'something special' instilled within their minds and hearts. They certainly did Minnesota proud.

One of the major reasons I am actually proud to pay taxes, Is because of the amazing Minnesota social safety net system. I don't always agree where my tax dollars should go and often times am
completely disgusted (these days) as to how my taxes are being used. Federal and state business has turned away from very viable and very workable social safety net services.

I do and always will believe that my tax dollars should be contributed for social safety net services that equalize access to a basic and better life for all and any people who are in need, as well as the other services that help Minnesota grow strong. We were actually on the right track, with a sound recipe and a clear vision. So much so, that the general public didn't know how strong we had built that net, not until they tripped over it in need. And boy were people grateful when they found it existed, I know I was. A Minnesota best kept secret!

I like knowing that social responsibility, here in Minnesota, includes the equal making of opportunities of every shape, size and color for lives of every shape, size or color. Its the 'thing' that makes paying taxes (for me) worth every penny. Spreading the wealth, distribution of opportunity and creating a strong social fabric foundation for now and for the future...All in my little rose colored glass world, where I smile out of joy for another's fortunate daily happenings and shed tears of shame at someone's selfish reason for taking 'better' for themselves alone.

Fighting for affordable housing should be a concern on everyone's mind, at least I'm sure it is in my neighborhood, my township and my county. Public Housing serves a very important purpose as does mixed income housing. But..It is the mixed income housing that cannot sustain itself alone, not without other very critical components being maintained, being restored and being protected; livable wages come to mind, health care another and a host of other needs that make a whole social plan, a practical plan for now and for the future.

The July 4th rally in New Orleans will offer a way to help repair a broken 'wheel' for some and for others this will be their first taste of activism. Good luck to you - New Orleans - in your fight for
affordable housing. As I have known since that fateful day of your immense loss....I am learning much from you, through you and because of you. I am learning a new purpose, everyday and reminded of what I have always known to be true...The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, in America the beautiful, America the bountiful.

July 5, 2006
Update July 5, 2006 -
The Fight for Housing by T-P's Kate Moran...

Link to NOLA Indymedia for todays full story...

Social Action In Chicago

June 27, 2006 - Housing Options?

Bureau Of Economic Analysis U.S. Department of Commerce

Update on affordable housing to R-Watch
Link Link


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