AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR ALL: HERE'S HOW

 

Lots of families are homeless, even though the parent(s) are willing to work reasonably. At the same time rich families own multiple mansions. All who are willing to work reasonably* should enjoy comfortable and adequate housing just as much as anybody else. People will not be homeless in an egalitarian society.

 

Gentrification is illegal in an egalitarian society.

 

Squatting is legal in an egalitarian society. (See "San Francisco has nearly five empty homes per homeless resident.")

In a no-rich-and-no-poor (egalitarian) society the economic principle is “From each according to reasonable* ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire with scarce things equitably rationed according to need.”

 

Think about what this wonderful principle means about housing. People who are now small landlords who depend on rent to make ends meet would—if they are contributing to society reasonably according to ability in some manner (or did so before reaching retirement age)—be able to take what they need or reasonably desire from the economy for free, and that includes a home to live in and everything else to live decently such as food and medical care and education and entertainment, etc. (and have scarce things that are equitably rationed according to need.). They would not need to collect rent from anybody.

 

People who contribute reasonably by building, maintaining or managing homes would also be able to take for free what they need or reasonably desire from the economy.

 

And ALL people who contribute reasonably according to ability would be able to take the housing they need or reasonably desire from the economy—for free. We call that “squatting” today, but it’s just the morally right thing and would be routine in an egalitarian society.

 

This kind of economy is a “sharing economy.” When somebody is contributing to society reasonably according to ability (and this includes of course young children and the elderly and those caring for them, and students and those who are now retired, and those unable to contribute for some reason) then such people are “members in good standing of the sharing economy.”

 

In an egalitarian society, any reasonable number of people in good standing who don’t otherwise have a place to live may live together for free in any house or apartment that is safe and not already used by others as their primary place of residence. Houses and apartments belong to those who reasonably use them as their primary place of residence, for as long as they do so.

Not Only Good Housing, But Housing Located SENSIBLY

Housing today is not only not affordable for many people but even when it is affordable it is not located desirably from the point of view of the residents. Many people can only find affordable housing far away from where they work. They thus must commute sometimes two or more hours each way, which is terrible. Related to this is the fact that in cities the density of housing (typically quite expensive) is far greater than desirable for the residents and there is far less green space (trees, nice parks, etc.) than would be the case in a nice neighborhood. The cause of this is that Big Money--to maximize its profits, of course--locates its businesses in a concentrated area in the city, which means people who work there want to live near there, which in turn means developers maximize their profit by building very dense and expensive housing with little green space there.

In an egalitarian society with genuine democracy (read about that here) there would be no Big Money class of people calling the shots like today. The decisions about where to locate both work places and housing would be made by people, none of whom is richer than the others. The decisions would reflect the needs and desires of the residents. Work places and housing would be located sensibly, from the point of view of ordinary people rather than, as today, from the point of view of the very rich. Everything would likely be quite different from today. Work sites would be more spread out, so housing could be more spread out with only appropriate density and lots of green space. Public transportation would be built to make this possible and convenient for everybody.

 

BEWARE OF THE PHONY DEBATE ABOUT HOUSING ORCHESTRATED BY THE MASS MEDIA

 

This Boston Globe article--about the difficulty poor people have in finding affordable housing** in safe communities with good schools--is INFURIATING! Here's why.

 

The Boston Globe identifies a problem--the fact that many poor people cannot obtain decent housing in a safe community with good public schools. Then the Globe examines how a certain totally inadequate, hence phony, "solution" to the problem--letting poor people rent "affordable" housing in well-to-do communities--has been thwarted, but holds out hope that maybe one day this phony solution will not be thwarted.

 

Along the way, the Globe article discusses that there is another solution--building nice low income housing in the poor neighborhoods. This solution is also a phony one because it leaves the tenants poor and it leaves the neighborhoods poor and unsafe with lousy public schools [funded by property taxes that produce little revenue in poor communities and lots of revenue in richer ones], but the Globe doesn't mention this. Instead the Globe points out that some poor people oppose this second solution because it undermines the first (it's a choose your phony solution approach.)

 

The first (phony) solution is portrayed as superior to the second because what poor people need in order to have a good life, according to the article, is to live in a "high-opportunity" neighborhood (this is how the Globe refers to well-to-do communities).

 

What makes this Globe article so infuriating is that it, like virtually all reporting in the mass (and, alas alternative) media, uses phony solutions to hide the real solution, which is egalitarianism--the abolition of class inequality so that there are no rich and no poor and the economy is based not on buying and selling but on sharing according to "From each according to ability, to each according to need." [This is described at http://www.pdrboston.org/egalitarianism .]

 

The problem, in other words, is not that poor people cannot live in well-to-do communities, and nor is the problem that poor people don't have nice homes in their poor unsafe bad-schools communities; the problem is that poor people are very poor while others are much richer, even though the poor work (or are willing to work) doing socially useful labor as hard or harder than the richer people. The problem is that our society is designed to make things good for the richest people, who have the most power because in our society money is power. The problem is that poor people are treated like dirt to ensure that the richest people remain in power (as discussed here ). 

 

Moving very poor people into a community of much richer people is no solution at all. Obviously this phony solution cannot EVER be a real solution because nobody envisions moving ALL the poor people into rich communities. Even if this happened, what would it mean? It would simply result in new ways for the richer people to separate themselves from the poorer ones, and eventually there would be essentially poor communities and rich communities all over again.

Residential Rent Control?

The Globe ran an article about re-introducing residential rent control (for residential occupants, not for small businesses renting space) now after the idea was narrowly voted down in a state referendum in 1994. Residential rent control in our current capitalist system of housing is an inherently divisive issue that pits owners of one or a few rental units against tenants.

 

The typical such owner is not a rich person, but one who has invested their small life savings in some rental property and relies on the income from it to live modestly, often after having retired from a working class job. Many working class people in Boston bought their first home by taking out a large mortgage from a bank to buy a "triple decker"--a common (in Boston) form of housing consisting of three units each on its own floor. The new owner would live in one unit and rent the other two out in order to pay the mortgage with that rental income.

Debates about residential rent control frame the conflicting sides as the owner versus the renter with the former obviously opposed to rent control and the latter obviously favoring it. When framed this way (as the mass media always do) the debate cannot be anything other than divisive, pitting owners versus renters.

If, however, the debate were framed to be a conflict between the interests of the banks versus both the owners and renters, then it would be clear that both the owners and renters would be much better off if we had egalitarianism, and only the bankers would be worse off.

What about the bankers in an egalitarian society? They wouldn't exist; they'd have to find something useful to do so they too could contribute reasonably according to ability and then have the right to take what they need or reasonably desire from the economy for free.

But today bankers, who do no useful work, get rich from making ordinary people pay them mortgage payments to live in a house that the bankers didn't build (and couldn't build if their lives depended on it.)

Other Phony "Solutions"

Other ruling class-sponsored so-called solutions to the "lack of affordable housing" problem entail legislation of one sort or another designed to tweak the capitalist free- market system to provide more affordable housing. Some of these "solutions" are described in this Boston Globe article.  These "solutions" include, in addition to residential rent control, making it easier for developers to get changes in local zoning rules, making it harder for a landlord to evict a tenant, making it illegal to build single-family homes in some places, and legalizing backyard apartments.

 

None of these "solutions" gets at the root of the problem, which is class inequality, i.e., some (very few) rich and some (very many) poor. As long as there are some people much wealthier than others in a society based on money, i.e., buying and selling things instead of sharing them according to need, then housing will be built by developers seeking to maximize their profit by creating housing for wealthy people who will pay the big bucks, not for poor people.

Rent control, in a free-market capitalist economy, results in developers not wanting to build housing where rents are kept "below market." Also landlords of existing housing under rent control tend to let the property fall into disrepair because it doesn't pay to spend money on proper upkeep. The result is a slum. This happens even if the rent-control law exempts the small landlord and only applies to the big landlords who own most of the rental housing stock, such as the late Harold Brown who owned 45,000 apartments in Boston. (If most of the rental housing stock is not owned by big landlords and the rent-control only applies to big landlords, then it doesn't apply to most tenants and for that reason alone is no solution at all!)

Making it easier for developers to get zoning changes simply makes it easier for developers to build luxury housing.

Making it harder for landlords to evict tenants doesn't help people who can't find an affordable rental and are thus homeless; nor does it prevent landlords from refusing to make appropriate repairs and upkeep on their property so that the tenant can remain but not have decent habitation (which is what happens with residential rent control.)

 

The ruling class promotes infuriating articles like these Globe articles about all the problems in society in order to keep us divided and to prevent us from thinking about the real solutions to our problems. The rulers want to prevent us from thinking about how ACTUALLY to make our society one where everybody can have a good life--by making an egalitarian revolution (which is indeed possible, as discussed at here ).  You can help make it happen; read how here

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* What is reasonable is determined by the Local Assembly of Egalitarians (i.e., people who support no-rich-and-no-poor equality and mutual aid) at which all egalitarians in the local community have a right to participate as equals in democratically making policy and laws for the local community. No higher governmental body can make laws that people in the local community must obey! Egalitarians, being reasonable people, will no doubt count children and retired elderly and people physically or mentally unable to work as "working reasonably"  even though they do no work, and likewise deem it "reasonable work" when people care for their own or other children or for other sick adults or attend school or apprentice programs to learn skills so as to be able to work in the future.

 

** This Boston Globe article reports:

a. "It’s a familiar story in Boston, where older renters have been squeezed out as rents climb and apartments convert to condos for well-heeled newcomers."

b. "Landlords have sued to evict about 40,000 households a year in Massachusetts over the past decade, according to data from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting."

This Boston Globe article reports: "Eviction initiations in Massachusetts spiked in 2008, following the Great Recession. Each year since then, landlords have sued about 40,000 heads of household across the state seeking to evict them, according to data gathered by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. The state doesn’t track how many of these have resulted in actual evictions, but the Eviction Lab at Princeton University found that in 2016, there were roughly 15,708 forced removals in Massachusetts — an average of nearly 43 a day."

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