With the recent announcement that the City of Alexandria is considering building affordable housing mid and high rises on the campuses of two of our elementary schools, it occurs to me that there may be a better path forward that would do more for the low-income families.
From decades of work helping to uplift the homeless and working poor, if I have learned anything it is that those with the fewest resources deserve our respect. They are not objects of our charity. They are people of dignity who are most often searching for a path out of
Poverty. If you doubt what I am saying, I would challenge anyone to try to stretch more value out of a $20 bill for their children than a working poor mother.
If you start from the assumption that all people are capable and that they are seeking the best for themselves and their families, it dictates that we need to give our City’s least resource-rich individuals the tools to build a better life for their families.
Building what will arguably be warehouses for our city’s poor on two locations that were selected because of their availability and not out of a strategic concern for those who are going to live there, sounds like a bad investment.
Worse, it disrespects those who are supposed to live in these buildings that will essentially store them and ease our collective consciences. Instead, may I suggest we break with the failed policies of the past and think anew.
Why don’t we find a way to trust our low-income families to find housing that will help them uplift and potentially change their circumstances.
Rather than spending millions on building massive one size fits all, human warehouses with years of maintenance, interest expense, insurance and much more, what if we used that money to create a housing endowment that would give the people who would otherwise live in these buildings direct assistance so that they could find housing that fits the needs of
their families. Maybe a family in need would benefit from living near a Metro station where they could get to a job more easily and at less expense. … Maybe they would select finding a home or apartment near a middle school or TC Williams so that their child could more easily participate in extracurricular activities that would enrich their young person and let them see they can achieve their dreams. Think of the possibilities and I urge you to think of it in this context. Recently, I was shocked to learn that across the country roughly 75% of those below the poverty level will find a way out but that within 5 years half of them will fall back below the poverty level.
Let’s get creative and find ways to empower our less resource-rich neighbors find the housing solutions that will help them uplift their families and set them on a path where they will thrive and not fall back. Let’s unite and if we think together we can come up with a much better solution.