Local Solutions

One idea that comes to mind that would help the situation of alleviating the problems of
affordable housing for low-income people is a housing trust fund. In a story from the
magazine In These Times from Rachael Cohen, she reports on a possible solution that could be beneficial to people in urban communities. This is a solution that could be found at the local level which involves allowing a plebiscite to let the citizens have a voice in their housing needs. As is the case with voting on any subject, it is vital that an educated populace comes out and vote.
The city of Detroit is in a situation where this is an option that should be seriously considered. Due to rising housing cost, a ballot initiative is a solution several cities are currently considering. The goal of these housing ballot initiatives should be to make more affordable houses and assistance for low to moderate income people. The money would be flexible for whatever purpose it is needed for. An important issue when dealing with affordable housing is the median income of an area. As some of the recent ballot proposals are structured, if rent goes above a certain median income, low to median income people should receive some type of assistance.
The details of the proposed trust fund which was being voted on in Baltimore is quite specific.  An affordable housing trust fund is an entity that provides assistance to people making less than fifty percent of the median income. Under an affordable housing trust fund the money can be used for other purposes such as homeownership workshops, credit counseling, and creating new low-income housing units. The reason why a trust fund makes sense is that finding affordable housing in a private market is increasingly more difficult and many moderate to low-income people receive no government assistance.
In order for an affordable housing trust fund to work, the locality has to be committed to
adequately funding the initiative. From a political standpoint, housing trust funds have the advantage of having very few strings attached as to how the money has to be spent. As a community they can decide to switch between improving current properties or to create new properties. As with any public expenditure, it is important that the money is spent wisely and watchdogs monitor how efficiently the money is being spent.
A community coming together to take matters into their own hand and decide on a matter that is important to their livelihoods is the epitome of democracy. The first step to making any successful community base effort succeed is awareness. The awareness of what is at stake and how to improve the situation is important solving the issue of affordable housing. In the Detroit area organizations like Family Tree exist to help moderate and low-income people in their goal to secure affordable housing and assist with financial literacy. If you know anyone in the Detroit area that could benefit from the services Family Tree has to offer please, call us at 313-692-2329.
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