May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Housing the Homeless on a Budget

I just came across this story about a developer in India who is building and selling condominium apartments for between $7800 and $13,400 each. That's not annual rent. That is the price it costs to purchase and own these units. Here's the simple floorplans, ranging in size from 283 to 465 square feet. This is the same guy who developed and marketed the $2000 car.

According to a study two years ago, there were 744,000 homeless people in the United States. The average price of one of these condominiums is $10,000.

Okay, let's do the math. But first, let's say that apartments like this actually cost a little more to build in the United States. Say it costs twice that, so it's $20,000 per condominium. And let's assume that the number of homeless in the U.S. has tripled with this economic recession/depression, so we have an estimate of roughly 2.5 million homeless now.
And let's assume that not every homeless person is single, and that these apartments are going to be suitable for two people each. That means we divide by two.

2,500,000 x 20,000 / 2 = ?

25 billion dollars!
For only 25 billion dollars, the United States could have addresses for every homeless person, and a place to lay their head down and call their own. Without home addresses, it's really difficult to get a job, because where will potential employers contact you? This would only help the economy. We spent 700 billion dollars (and much much more) to try and bail out the bankers (who by and large still have homes after screwing us, thank you very much). That is 28 times as much as it would cost to give all of our homeless people homes.

I've already done this math before. This is the second time I've specifically mentioned this here. My thinking this time agrees with my thinking then.

The United States is a sad, sad place if we can't do this. No, it's not that we can't do it. It's that those who control where resources go refuse (or do not have the will) to do it. Guilt and shame, to the highest order of magnitude, rides upon the heads of all those who have the capacity to make this happen but do not. HERE IS A CASE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN WRIT LARGE, and being "good Sam" in this case doesn't even require these people to spend their own money to make it happen -- only to dedicate a portion of the budget from our commonwealth. Honor and true pride can swell within those who dedicate resources to making this happen, and see it through.

And I realize that I was here talking about the United States, because that is presently the primary domain of my jurisdiction, but this simple mathematics can be extended to everywhere on the planet. If there are 500 million people without homes across this planet, the math works out to 2.5 trillion dollars. A seemingly large sum, but not when you think about it over the long haul, and of the benefits it would provide.

"Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, theres a solution."
From Fly Like an Eagle, by Steve Miller

colors: Brown, as in the new mud huts for everyone. BTW, I hope that these apartments are eco-friendly. For this to be a real solution, they should be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

mood: Hopeful.

chant/prayer/mantra: A place for everybody.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

PS- Here's an even more affordable housing design, perhaps preferable, and from a company with a true eco-friendly, people-friendly mission statement.

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