Friday, June 14, 2019

Putting The Chronic Homelessness In Expensive Housing

On Tuesday the Fort Wayne Housing Authority broke ground for a new housing development geared to help those struggling from chronic homelessness. The 56-unit apartment complex will be complete with both one- and two-bedroom apartments. The River’s Edge Apartments project, to be located on Spy Run Extended has been in the developmental stage for about four years. Now that it is underway they hope to have construction of the building done in 12-18 months. The complex will also include laundry services, bike racks, a library, and more.

Zillow Price On This 3 bd 2 ba 1,652 sq ft $225,000




And it should include all these things and more because this $13.9 million project is all about inclusion in the community. This all has been sold to the public as housing needed to provide s stable place to live for individuals or families experiencing chronic homelessness or disability. The complex is being built on an inexpensive small parcel of land located adjacent to a slew of high power electrical towers. The land sold at auction around three years ago for about $35,000. This should be enough to make someone question why the cost of these units is slated to come in at a whopping $248,214 each.

This is far more expensive than the median home value in Fort Wayne which Zillow claims is $133,500. Still, Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority calls this "expensive boondoggle" vital to the well-being of the state. “It’s all about inclusion, when you’re including everybody on the mission and the vision of the state and they’re able to assimilate and be thriving citizens. I think that’s vital, it’s vital to our community in terms of how it works from a human level, also to our economy and so many other things,” George Guy said.

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It is important to note this new housing facility is being built in a city with some of the lowest rents in America. Also, most houses sell for far less than these units and if a housing crisis does exist it is not because of a shortage of houses available. Adding more units will add even more competition causing older less expensive units to be demolished. As older units are replaced by newer more expensive units rents in the area will rapidly increase causing even more people to have problems finding housing.

Again, I'm forced to ask why this project cost so much and why working people should not be resentful? One of the partners on the project is UPholdings. Their Principal Jessica Hoff Berzac said this group is the people the community should be working to help. “To take some of the most vulnerable, high-risk folks in the community and give them a place to call home, and give them the services they need. That they can live by their lease and have pride in their homes, that’s a step forward in how the community responds to what is a community crisis. We can do a lot of temporary solutions but permanent housing actually ends homelessness,” Berzac said.

The financial news website 24/7 Wall St.,  recently used tax assessor data from ATTOM Data Solutions to examine the number of single-family homes and condos that are empty in 15,957 ZIP codes. This allowed them to determine which American cities had the most vacancies. Twenty-nine cities were found to have at least 5,000 single-family homes and condos abandoned. Gary, Indiana; Detroit, Michigan; and Baltimore, Maryland, were identified as a few of the cities suffering the highest vacancy rates in the country with most vacancies concentrated in neighborhoods with low incomes.

Many of the cities with high vacancy rates are situated in areas in the Midwest and Rust Belt regions that have lost industrial jobs. This highlights that a "lack of housing crisis" does not exist everywhere. Logic also dictates better ways exist to spend this money that would help a lot more people and communities. Only politicians and those gaining from these kinds of projects would be silly enough to think that landlords who have to compete against subsidized housing would be eager to remain in the game or that someone working for a living enjoys paying more for an older apartment than someone on the dole who moves into a brand new unit for a fraction of the cost.

America has built a lot of housing units over the years, now we must face the fact that they need to be maintained. We should be focusing on creating policies to rebuild our cities by encouraging homeowners to invest more in upgrading windows, adding insulation and improving the existing housing stock. More livable housing is good for everyone by it cannot be achieved through expensive wasteful projects like River's Edge. By not rewarding those who do the right thing our current housing policies have become a corrosive effect on both housing and society.

For those unfamiliar with government housing policy, society creates much of the homelessness problem by trying to deny that many people go through life making their own problems. The government often sidesteps this issue by pawning the problem off on the private sector. An eviction on someone's record usually means they become ineligible for government housing programs. By making them "ineligible" for certain programs the government shrewdly and cleverly sidesteps having to deal with these people. The brutal truth is that government housing cherry-picks the best of the low-income renters providing them with very low rents and nice apartments while dumping the rest on the private sector.

This is not the first time we have seen this type of project built in Fort Wayne and most likely will not be the last. The fact such scams are occurring all across America screams the system is broken. Putting the chronically homeless in new expensive housing is one of the things many middle-class Americans find a bit over the top. It brings in the question of whether other options and alternatives exist to aid those who constantly and often contribute to their own demise. The bottom-line is that many hard working people that do the right thing live in older less expensive housing that is need of repair also should make us question the fairness of such programs. Consider this more proof that it is far easier to be compassionate and generous when you are doling out someone else's money.

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