Endorsing Prop 10
When speaking about the needs of the people in Redlands, several voters I have talked to physically tense up a little when I mention affordable housing or rent control or housing the homeless. Why is that?
To me the reaction is rather normal considering how society has shaped our thinking on the issue. Most of us, especially those who have lived a relatively comfortable life including myself, might feel certain thoughts creeping in like, “that doesn’t seem fair” or “I worked hard for what I have” “why does he deserve a place to live?” the list goes on…
As Americans, we have been told that through our hard work we are entitled to some form of success. This is the “American Dream” that we can do and become whatever we want in America as long as we put in the effort. The truth is, the cards are stacked against us. And when we do experience equal opportunity, much of what happens next is left open to chance. By chance, I was born into a middle-class family, by chance I got this job, by chance I met this person…
So, when I discuss ideas around systemic change to transform our community for those in need, as in the case of housing the homeless or affordable housing, many people who have experienced wealth may begin to feel slightly uncomfortable and bristle at this thought.
Some might even see helping others as a personal offense, a theft of their hard-earned wealth. This attitude has contributed to economic stratification and we see it in our city.
More commonly the response is more liberal though, some might suggest “effective altruism” a concept popularized by ethicist Peter Singer that says we ought to reduce suffering of others as long as doing so does not require “sacrificing anything nearly as important.” This is a basic principle of charitable giving and moralistically it can make a lot of sense when confronted with an impending crisis. But its blind spot is in its failure to address the systemic issue at hand and thereby allows the giver to avoid any political response to the issue that is causing the problem in the first place. The question should always be, how is the system that we’ve established taken from us and leave us wanting for charity in the first place?
I talk a lot about housing because for most, housing is one of the largest single expenditure we experience month-to-month. The problem of course is that rent is ever increasing while wages stagnate. Those with the means to afford living in Redlands might brush off the problem saying, “Well, if you can’t afford to live in Redlands, move somewhere else.” The problem with this is that if we continue to price people out of our town we are creating a community that lacks stability and this quality of stability is essential in making Redlands the town we need it to be. Stability allows better relationships between neighbors, lower crime, better sense of pride in our social well-being, stronger commitment to local establishments.
Stable society through stable housing.
I’m happy to support an upcoming state proposition, prop 10, that will allow communities to choose to stabilize rent. Some landlords I have spoken with are not thrilled at this idea, because they view it as their right to charge whatever they please for rent. In my opinion, this is short-sighted and ignores the benefits of having stable tenants in their rentals but also in their community. But I’m not naïve, landlords are renting not because they want to be charitable for people, they are looking for a way to make some money.
What if we reconceived of what housing is? If we saw housing as a right, not as something to be traded for profit on the market?
The truth is, if we believed that and acted accordingly, property management may not turn out to be very lucrative at all for many land owners. For the past 10 years, the idea of having an “income property” has been propagated and viewed as way for the middle class to compensate for their declining wages. Turn on HGTV and you’ll see how this idea is being sold.
Housing is too critical to be viewed as an investment opportunity for some to scrape a profit off the top. We need rent control to stabilize rent and then aggressively pursue the development of affordable housing to help keep rents down for all.
Homeowners will benefit too when all of our community becomes more stable and affordable.
Who won’t benefit? Probably Realtors who make a lot of money from an unstable housing market.
For some, helping those who live below the poverty line or for those who work several jobs and still can barely afford their rent, may seem unfair. But we need a community that recognizes that in the current economic system in which we live, most people struggle to make ends meet, there are “winners and losers” as they say. We can do a better job as a town helping those in need, while folding them back into a community that has so often set them apart.
I encourage you to vote Yes on Prop 10 this November.
If you would like to get involved next weekend, Yes on 10 is launching their campaign in San bernardino (September 22). Link to the event: HERE
If you want to learn more feel free to contact me!