Letters to the Editor: Microloans can prevent homelessness. Government leaders, are you listening?
We’ve heard so much about micro-loans in recent months. The White House has been touting “$25 billion for education and infrastructure,” while President Obama has pledged to give “$1.5 trillion to education over the next 10 years.”
But with all the hype about micro-loans, there’s one major fact that doesn’t get enough attention: microloans don’t solve homelessness. Yes, they can help the chronically homeless, but their impact on the rest of the homeless community is largely minimal.
There is a huge need for affordable housing, and if governments really wanted to solve homelessness, they would stop building more homeless shelters, and instead allow people who are homeless to build their own homes at lower cost. Many of these “subsistence living” shelters are in the most economically deprived and vulnerable neighborhoods. But that just gives them even more reason to seek out low cost shelter or housing from the private sector.
And, for a lot of homeless people, including our own homeless, the private sector is just that, private, and while there are many homeless people who can’t get access to affordable housing that’s available, there are many others who can’t afford the monthly fee that would allow them to get shelter. They’re on the streets, and they’re trying to get by.
The $25 billion for education could actually provide millions of dollars per year to help fund affordable housing. It could fund the construction of housing that would make our homeless shelters obsolete.
We’ve been fighting for more affordable housing, including affordable rental housing that would allow homeless people to stay in their community rather than move to our homeless shelters, and that would make them feel like a part of the community, rather than feeling like they’re wandering around in their own squ