A friend recently sent me the June 2011 Report of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. I’d recommend taking a look at the document itself, but the introduction at least gives you a sense of the situation:
Recent polling indicates that three-quarters of Americans believe that adequate housing is a human right, and two-thirds believe that government programs need to be expanded to ensure this right. Indeed, we believe, as President Obama has stated, “It is simply unacceptable for individuals, children, families and our nation’s Veterans to be faced with homelessness in this country.”
But when we look around, we quickly see that we do accept this. The foreclosure crisis has millions of homes standing empty while millions of people are on the streets. Two million children are estimated to have become homeless due to the foreclosure crisis in the past two years, millions more families are arbitrarily evicted with no access to legal counsel, experience poor housing conditions, and live in neighborhoods without adequate schools, transportation, or other services.
One thing specifically mentioned later in the document is the concept of habitability. This suggests that often the only “affordable” housing available is substandard, sometimes from years of neglect from absentee landlords and investors. This is certainly the case in Philadelphia. I hope to blog more about this idea in the future. Affordable does not always mean habitable.