Bernie Sanders wonders why millions of Americans are homeless in any given year and wants to know why, on any given night in America, over 500,000 people are not sleeping in their own beds. He thinks it is a shame that in a country, as wealthy as America, that affordable housing goals have not become a reality. His hope is to have an economy that benefits all, not just the upper class. Furthermore, if one does have access to public housing the mold, leaks, rats, drugs, bad heating, water, and lead must change.
The poverty level of children in America is higher than just about every other large country in the world. Sanders has affordable housing goals that would make it a priority to invest in low-income neighborhoods, like Brownsville, New York. In Brownsville, the average person will die a decade sooner than those living in other parts of the city.
Brownsville has the highest concentration of public housing in America. According to Sanders, this is not the only issue that folks in the neighborhood are struggling with; Sanders says crime is also a huge problem, as is usually the case, in poverty stricken areas. Ethnic men in Brownsville are having more money spent on them to be housed in jail, than for healthcare, to the tune of $40 million dollars.
Sanders’ affordable housing goals plan to increase high paying jobs, which in turn will lower crime and extend the lifespan in the area. Sanders was the author of legislation in 2001, to steadily increase affordable homes and apartments over the next 10 years by at least three million.
With this in mind, Sanders proposes that the end result should be to reduce the financing that public housing needs, as will the $20 million in unmet capital the New York Housing Authority needs. While in New York, Sanders’ affordable housing goals are top of the list of things to be discussed.
Also on the housing agenda is to make sure there is enough money to help the communities of color that were targeted by predatory lending. The goal for Sanders is for every citizen to achieve the American Dream of owning their own home. Sanders says that not since the Great Depression has homelessness been this high in New York City.
Sanders relayed that at last count, 40,000 children slept in shelters. Adult numbers are in the hundreds of thousands. Sanders says this is not hard to believe if one looks at the fact that rental housing increases of up to 75 percent are being reported while the average median income is dropping by five percent. “Unacceptable,” says Sanders, as are the millions of families on waiting lists for 10 years, or more trying to get housing vouchers.
Sanders questions what is the priority here in America. It seems agency computer upgrades far outweigh the needs of the average working class, or vulnerable citizens trying to make ends meet and have a home to live in. Just the bare minimums here, nothing fancy, says Sanders. 98 percent of the average family’s income is needed to buy a home in Brooklyn.
$15.00 an hour will help to alleviate housing and homelessness issues, in at least New York, hopefully, the entire country. As a whole, we all need to benefit. Bailing out Wall Street was done, so it is possible to get out of this crisis too, says Sanders. There is no other choice when 50 percent of the household income is spent on the rent. Sanders finds it unbelievable that in addition, over half of the people in the neighborhood are living this way and yet, America is the wealthiest country in the world; the wealthiest country, with the most people incarcerated.
By Sylvia Harris
Edited by Jeanette Smith
NY Daily News: The Democratic candidate for president lays out his affordable housing agenda.
NY Daily News: Sanders visits Bronx housing project, pledges affordable housing improvements during three borough campaign
berniesanders.com: Sanders Details Affordable Housing Plan
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