What a roof means

“I like to sit on the porch and let the sun rest on my face”- 9 year old living in a home-built for her family by Habitat for Humanity

I have been very fortunate in 55 years of living that I have always had a home, a roof over my head. Last night I listened to several people speak, including the 9-year-old, about what it meant to their family to have a home. They used words like self-esteem, roots, stability, and future when they spoke about what their home meant to them. It was simply more than a place.

The United States is facing a crisis, hard to believe, but it is a housing crisis. Areas like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Hawaii have plenty of housing just the wrong kind, the kind that only a certain segment of the population can afford. The median home value in San Francisco is $1,104,000. The median list price per square foot in San Francisco is $948. Think about that. A 1,000 square foot house in San Francisco would list for $948,000. In my community the median sales price for a home is $161,500 and the median list price per square foot is $94, so a 1,000 square foot home would list for $94,000.

The rule of thumb most often cited is that no more than 30% of your household income should be spent on housing. The annual average household income in the United States is approximately $54,000. Using 30%, the average household should only be spending $1,350 per month for housing expenses. Sadly, if the primary income producer in a household is earning the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour their net monthly income is well below $1,350 per month.

I know that there is a segment of the population that believes, with all their heart, that the government needs to get out of the entitlement business. But the harsh reality is this, not everyone has the same opportunities or advantages, some people simply need a little more help. I heard those stories last night, stories about what that extra little bit of aid meant to their families.

Yes, I have been lucky but I also understand that my luck could change in a matter of seconds, health issues, mental health issues, a severe change in the economy, a car wreck, a lawsuit, could all change the fragile dynamics of my existence. It happens every day, a thousand times a day, some survive, some recover, others simply can’t or don’t.

Every person, every child, should have the opportunity to enjoy the tranquility of letting the sun rest on their face. There are enough stresses in life without having the added worry of where you are going to sleep or eat your next meal. Before we judge, before we rail about government handouts view your own lot in life with a little perspective, a little objectivity. Most of us are where we are because of the love, support and efforts of others, I know I am.

About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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8 Responses to What a roof means

  1. William Tell says:

    You touch on several points here close to home, so to speak.
    First, a correction: Habitat didn’t build the house FOR the family, but rather WITH the family. Big difference.
    Second, of note is Leslie Badger’s recent piece demonstrating that affordable housing is just plain a no-can-do in the private sector: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/26/the-basic-reason-why-there-just-isnt-enough-decent-housing-for-the-poor/
    Third, my own impression as a homeless person living among the homeless; and also from what I see in the neighborhood around my church: America needs to come to grip with what will become new housing norms. The middle class apparently will soon cease to exist. The population that formerly was there WILL NOT be able to afford what formerly were known as single-family dwellings; rather, there will normally be several families living together in a single home. We need to prepare ourselves with leases, etc., that will correspond to that reality.
    For much of the rest of the population, “permanent” housing is likely to take the form of “a bed in a house where twelve strangers live three to a room and share one kitchen, one bath” (https://williamatell.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/housing-the-homeless-aint-that-easy/). That’s not that much different from what I have now, other than that such a bed will be “MINE.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • #1-I have worked on and completed 6 Habitat Homes, I understand your perception but the bottom line is they were built predominantly with more labor than the family provided. Word it any way you want as long as the end result is the same.
      #2- I think their are more creative ways to make the math work particularly by using a different product than an apartment complex.
      #3- I am more optimistic than your view of the future. We shall see my friend, we shall see.
      As always thank you for reading William Tell and for taking the time to share your valuable viewpoint ~ Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Smartygirl41 says:

    I totally agree. I may live in a different country, but I grew up very poor. We were frequent visitors of the food bank and thrift store. My mom made min wage, had three children to feed, received no child support, and her parents died when I was 3. So without the little bit of government aid and support, we would have starved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that lots of people look down on the disadvantaged and fail to realize that with just a slight shift in circumstances, that could be THEM. We all need to do some more walking in their shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

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