Op-Ed: To Fix Poverty, Make Housing Fair for Everyone
Matthew Desmond, a sociologist at Harvard and author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, pens a pointed opinion piece about the effects of poverty as related to housing—and the responsibilities of American society and politics for those effects. Desmond writes:
Those of us who don’t live in trailer parks or inner cities might think low-income families typically benefit from public housing or some other kind of government assistance. But the opposite is true. Three-quarters of families who qualify for housing assistance don’t get it because there simply isn’t enough to go around. This arrangement would be unthinkable with other social services that cover basic needs.
Another passage from the opinion piece describes the never-ending race to get ahead of rent pressures:
Throughout our history, wage gains won by workers through organized protest were quickly absorbed by rising rents. As industrial capitalists tried to put down the strikes, landlords cheered workers on. It is no different today. When incomes rise, the housing market takes its cut, which is why a two-bedroom apartment in the oil boomtown Williston, N.D., was going last year for $2,800 a month and why entire capital-rich cities like San Francisco are becoming unaffordable to the middle class. If rents rise alongside incomes, what progress is made?
Desmond's prescription for the problem: expand the country's housing voucher program to cover all low-income residents.