Monday, May 29, 2017

Housing Every American Family to Ensure Social Justice

The goal of a decent home as landed property for every American family in the Housing Act of 1949 cannot be achieved without nonprofit sector complementing the public policy in local housing marketplaces. Although housing is the first basic need to live and work in any community, the decision to invest or just rent as a consumer in local housing marketplaces is idiosyncratic. Every family in various communities in the United States should normally be interested to invest in landed property as capital asset irrespective of income level. Homeownership is the means for every family to increase net-worth and some measure of financial security. However, local housing marketplaces are not commonly conceptualized in terms of families investing in landed properties because of the general misunderstanding about periodic rents and mortgage payments. Many American families are not aware that public policy has inadvertently taken from their purview their property rights to meet housing needs as employees. Their responsibilities to invest, with some public assistance,  in housing in their various communities for improved living conditions and family well-being are commonly overlooked. A book is being written for advocating how every family could get involved in various local communities as investors in housing.

The current public policy issue is not affordability in terms of costs but equitable distribution through local housing marketplaces to ensure social justice. Hence, many families are still homeless or occupy inadequate houses while some houses are left vacant and abandoned in cities across the United States. The housing needs of American families are not being synchronized with supply of houses in local housing marketplaces. Hence, low-income families are not empowered as investors in their local housing marketplaces. It will require innovative civic engagement by related nonprofit sector institutions to empower low-income families and complement public policy in local housing marketplaces. Hence, the book being written is advocating social change in form of voluntary network of existing and prospective homeowners collaborating as investors, irrespective of income level. 

Low-income families require such collaboration to ensure effective management of equitable values of their landed properties for mutual benefits. While every family could be involved, the social change leadership requires some knowledge of real estate management and the nonprofit sector. There are invaluable mutual benefits in helping one another have decent homes with some measure of financial security though investing in local housing marketplaces.  Every family can be involved since rent or monthly mortgage payment is the largest expense item of many families. It is the rational economic evolution of local housing marketplaces, though public policy has not evolved the same way due to inconsistent government interventions. Nevertheless, a family collaborating with others to invest as homeowner or potential homeowner in various communities is still in line with public policy.

It should be possible to carry along every family irrespective of income level. Otherwise, homeownership would become the engine for driving income inequality of the economy. The American dream of homeownership should not become morbid desires among low-income families to keep them perpetually dependent on public subsidies for standard living conditions. Low-income families need community-based nonprofit real estate management for homeownership as well as for building, preserving, and marketing their equitable values in landed properties as capital assets.

Inclusive homeownership promotion does not preclude commercial activities in local housing marketplaces. Rather, the scope of commercial activities are widened and tailored to meet the housing needs of American families or households in view of the expanding economic activities and social mobility. The goal is not to supplant profit incentives in the housing industry, but to channel those incentives for mutual benefits in local housing marketplaces. Community Housing Market Support Network (CHMNS) Inc is promoting this intellectual property through a book about “Housing Every American Family to Ensure Social Justice.”


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Every Home is Affordable

            Every home is affordable. A house that is not affordable will not be built. The word, ‘affordable,’ tends to encourage misconception of public policy in the housing market. In line with the universal declaration of human rights, the goal of the Housing Act of 1949 in the United States has been for every American family to have a decent home. Every family or household needs only a decent home to live and work in any community. This makes home ownership the great equalizer. Local housing markets in communities across the United States are not intended to be commercial markets just for buying and selling of shelters or rental homes to live. A local housing market is part of real estate market in the community for families to invest in landed properties. There are various forms of public and private mortgage loans to leverage every family to invest in a home rather than public rental homes. Public housing in the United States is a legacy of the era of slum clearance. Renting a home to live is not the same as investing in a home one lives in. Rental homes are for various forms of leasehold arrangements in real estate markets; depending on housing needs. Public policy in local housing markets is to encourage every family to invest in, at least, a home to live and work in various communities. Encouraging home ownership curtails exploitation in decisions regarding its use; as well as it could prevent abusive use or poor maintenance.
            However, public policy administration has created ambivalent dichotomous local housing markets in communities across the United States. Local housing markets now comprise of market rate and subsidized homes. Traditionally public housing was to provide decent transitional shelters for very poor people when the need for slum clearance was prevalent. It became misconstrued as affordable decent rental homes for low-income families by public policy makers and administrators. This has resulted in concentration of poverty, segregated projects, and neighborhood declines. Even worse, renting homes became confused with investing in homes. The misconception persisted even after housing needs were taken from employers’ purview by the Housing Act of 1949. While some contemporary programs use subsidies to enable low-income households buy below market prices, it is perceived as unsustainable taking away of affordable housing for low-income households (Byrne & Diamond, 2006). However, it is not taking away but encouraging low-income households to also invest in housing as real estate. The perception is a reflection of the common misconception about real estate markets that led to confusing renting homes with investing in homes. To complement public policy and avoid the perception of unsustainable taking away of affordable housing for low-income households, nonprofit community real estate management services are needed in local housing markets. It is the assistance needed by low-income households, investors, and many small-scale including absentee landlords. This is the focus of Community Housing Market Support Network Inc (CHMSN Inc.) in Louisville Kentucky.

Byrne, J. P. & Diamond, M. (2006). Affordable housing, land tenure, and urban policy: The matrix revealed. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 34, 2, pp. 527- 612.