Monday Matters - December 14 - There's no place like home!
MONDAY MATTERS – December 14 – There’s No Place Like Home!
Action Item: Please send Governor Hutchinson a message at https://governor.arkansas.gov/online-services/contact-us/ or make a phone call at (501) 682-2345 and ask him to support a 90 day winter moratorium on rental evictions where non-payment is COVID related - And to work hard to find a way to make the landlords whole.
Growing up, I was never without a roof over my heard. But more than once my brothers and sisters huddled around our Mother who “shushed” us – with her hand over her mouth, as the agent for the gas or water company came to collect a delinquent bill. As a kid, I never knew when it would happen, but periodically the agent turned off the service to our house – at times even pulling the meter to prevent us from turning back on the utility. We were fortunate. We had a strong support group in our family Catholic Church and someone would come to our rescue within a few days. Many in Arkansas are not so fortunate. While their support groups surely exist, many of those very persons find themselves losing income due to COVID.
Housing Is a Human Right: I hope you believe that adequate and safe housing is a human right – whether you can afford it or not. Right now over a third of Arkansas families rent their homes. While there was a lull for a few months, evictions are tracking upward. The rate of evictions, despite the financial loss of income to so many families, is on par with a year ago. That is, landlords are now evicting at the same rate they were pre-COVID. What do we know will happen in the next 30-90 days during the potentially brutal winter months ahead? Many families have exhausted their personal resources, their extended safety net of friends has reached its limits, the area non-profits and churches that have been responding to daily emergencies are running out of funds. Many parents and their kids will be made homeless if we don’t step up to keep them in their homes – through our State government representing our shared values.
Sometimes it is our State Government which can be most effective in providing us security and safeguarding our access to life’s opportunities. It is effectively our social contract in action when it advances solutions to problems that are bigger than us. This is one of those times.
There was a time when the Federal government was involved in providing affordable housing. It’s the very reason my family was able to stay in a home during times of poverty. Somewhere along the way, we concluded that “markets” would solve all of our most pressing problems and we turned the job of providing adequate and affordable housing over to private enterprise. That group has served well the interests of those who have higher than average incomes and can pay the ever increasing cost of a home in this country. But for the vast majority of folks in Arkansas who are hourly wage-earners, the costs of a home have outstripped their resources. Admittedly, this is a longer term problem that you and I need to face today, but it’s one that I hope you will give serious thought to. Want some background (and enjoy listening to podcasts)? Go to:
“A Right to Housing – SOLD OUT – Rethinking Housing in America”.
Reform of Landord/Tenant Laws: Consider also that Arkansas is the only state in the Nation that does not mandate that landlords provide homes (houses and apartments) that are habitable for you, me and every member of our community. In this Legislative session, let’s change this.