Monday, October 24, 2011

>1/2 of US qualifies for affordable housing at CityWalk in Dallas

Half of all U. S. workers earned less than $26,364 in wages during 2010. 

That's the latest based on payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration.  To read a complete analysis of the data click here.

CityWalk, our Downtown affordable housing development here in Dallas, uses "means testing" to qualify residents according to tax credit rules that are tied to a major source of the funding used to convert the old office building to homes.  Under these rules a tenant is allowed to earn approximately $27,000 annually.  Anyone earning more than that ceiling cannot live in the building. 

So, over 1/2 of all working Americans are eligible to occupy one of our apartments!  Most people regard the building as "affordable housing" for low-income persons and families. 

This fact illustrates something about the reality and pervasiveness of poverty in our country.  It also forces some questions on us about our attitudes toward "the poor" in our society, don't you think?


Anonymous said...

So, team up with your husband/wife and double your income.

Anonymous said...

Poverty is a contrived concept. If half the US qualifies for a subsidy program, perhaps the criteria for qualifying should be changed. I live in a small town. $26K will get you a nice apartment, a full fridge, a car, and dinner out a couple of times per week. Income alone is insufficient to define need.

Anonymous said...

Its amazing what you can calculate these days!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 1:00:00 There are lots of single parent households. If there are young children in the family, it costs almost all of one parents' income to provide childcare.
Anon. 3:01:00 It's true that some areas have lower costs to live, but using that as the criteria for people who live in a metropolitan area does not address their need.

Solutions are what are needed. These responses do not provide solutions - they either discount the facts or the people. It's time for us to be God's people and look out for one another - providing the kind of support that people need to eventually lift themselves up.

Anonymous said...

My solution - stop birthing without marriage. Make divorce tougher to get. Get the deadbeats out of the system. Make people responsible for their own poor life choices.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:25:

Easy to say. In reality, next to impossible to do. Two teenagers have sex and she gets pregnant. Both drop out of school. They are never married and each lives with their family of origin. Both are virtually unemployable, or can get minimum wage jobs at best. Child support is unreliable because jobs are unreliable. So now you have a human being (the child) who through no fault of her own has a weak support system with few resources. And you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip (i.e. dad). Now you have another generation growing up poor with poor role models.

So who and how are we going to "make responsible for their own poor life choices"? It's a nice sound bite, but exactly how do you do that?

Anonymous said...

So I guess we'll just keep paying for others' poor choices.

Anonymous said...

I guess we could take the Greek approach (ancient, not modern) of leaving unwanted children on the hillside to die of exposure.

Anonymous said...

We could also teach a higher morality in the schools. With regard to the unmarried teens with a child - make them get married. Such anecdotes, while interesting, all to often force a false generalization

Anonymous said...

Schools won't be able to teach a 'higher morality' that is not modeled at home. And what about that child, and all the other children, who will come along in the meantime?

"Make them get married." Please tell me you're kidding. (1) this is America (not, say, China); and (2) many marriages end as the result of one spouse escaping abuse or a drug or alcohol addicted partner or one with serious mental illness. And your answer is to shackle them together?

As I said ... nothing but soundbites. Certainly nothing approaching a real answer.

Yes, part of the problem is other people's mistakes. But leaving them all on their own with no way out is just leaving that child out to die of exposure. Is that really the society we want?

Anonymous said...

Ann, your only solution, much the same as has been tried in the education system, is to just throw more taxpayer dollars at the problem - not a solution, but assuredly a way to perpetuate and expand the problem.

Anonymous said...

Using an anecdote to make a generalization from it is false logic

Anonymous said...

Let's pull a page from the liberal handbook. "Violence" is not merely a physical, but also an emotional imposition upon another person. One liberal camp goes so far as to say use of words (persuasion) by one person to constrain freedom of belief on another is a form of violence. Imposing an unwanted pregnancy upon a girl or woman is a form of violence. If the girl or woman agrees to a sexual encounter, but does not desire to become pregnant, then any unwanted pregnancy is a form of violence toward her. Violence can not be tolerated. Perpetrators of violence should be punished. So, instead of forced marriage, men who father children against the will of their sexual partners must serve jail time and pay child support until the child is an adult. In order to avoid jail time a man will want to develop a deep, trusting relationship with his sexual partner, since she must affirm her desire to conceive, else the father pays the penalties. I think that will reduce the unwanted pregnancy rate.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:25
I agree - "throwing" money is not a solution. But creating ways for people to produce more income addresses the issue of poverty - which is about money. Minimum wage is not a living wage. Education with a focus on trade skills increases the opportunity for people to earn more than a minimum wage. Charity doesn't fix these issues. But the public will to see their neighbors' lives improve will. Long-term solutions are what is needed - and yes, money is part of the solution.

My problem with most of the comments here is that the first response to information about poverty, and the people who struggle with it is to discount the information,then blame the poor. I hear a lot about a "sense of entitlement" when people talk about those receiving benefits provided by the government, but I would suggest that middle class and higher enjoy a sense of entitlement as well. What makes us think that we got here without government assistance? or without the benefit of a tax break?

There is not a single cause for poverty - there's not a single solution. But there is a need for the will to address the issue and that means we have to care.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Ann.

Anonymous said...

Ann, you haven't provided sound solutions. Your response implies those who would withhold money simply do not care. The overwhelming correlative factor in poverty is a broken family. Lack of skills is another. Low education level another. Personal choice is elemental in all three of these reasons for poverty. Money can not make up for a lack of a sound ethical character.

Your claim that the response of some is to first blame the poor person is only half right. I do place some blame those who can not control their sex drives and those that refuse to take advantage of a free education. However, in many instances family culture and values drive these behaviors. So we can also find many people to blame for the complex problem of poverty. A values-neutral approach to character development and sex education and an unwillingness to declare certain behavior immoral systematically facilitates unwise decisions.

How does personal accountability fit in to your range of possible solutions? You attacked specific attitudes and behaviors of your opponents, yet broadened your "solutions" to generalities - cash and care. Liberals tell conservatives we lack compassion and fail to understand community. Perhaps the decision to forgo immediate gratification and engage in the disciplined enterprise of reading a book or two and writing papers is a form of caretaking and community-building not recognized by the left.

Larry's post, like many, overgeneralizes by suggesting we are all poverty-stricken. It also baits us with the suggestion that we, too, might benefit financially with a good govt. program bent on putting others' donations and tax dollars into our personal budgets. After all $26K just doesn't go as far as it used to (unless you live a disciplined life, continue to build your skills, and play the long game).

Liberals can't have it both ways - blaming us for not caring and then telling us we are not as secure as imagined and suggesting there might be a chance to benefit from someone else's hard work - through transfer payments. In other words, "You conservatives are selfish and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Oh, by the way, if you support our programs you'll get some cash."

To take our money you need our vote. To succeed you must be specific in your criticisms and vague in your solutions. No go.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:58
First, I think raising the minimum wage is a specific solution to one issue of poverty and I don't think the general voting public has the will to do that. Increasing education in trade skills is another, so I take issue that I didn't give any specifics. I didn't give many, it's true, but it's a complicated issue.

It is a simplification of the complex issue of poverty to reduce it to a matter of ethics and character. If you apply ethics to the top 1% of the population, I don’t think you will get the same outcome. Of course, everyone should act ethically. Of course, everyone should make good choices. That applies to all of us – no matter what our economic standing. It’s just that those of us who were born into more affluent circumstances have built in safety nets that help us overcome the mistakes/bad choices that we are all prone to make. Those in poverty do not have the same advantage. Actually – as a moral, and ethical liberal, I disagree that liberals are somehow lacking in the area of ethical expectations. (hoping I have misunderstood the implications)

Beyond teaching morals in school, what suggestions would you make to lift people out of poverty? What do you do for the teenager in a poor family who made a bad choice and has a child? The bad choice is made – the baby is a fact. What is her safety net to help her finish her education and provide for her child? What is the solution for the parents of 3 or 4 children, both working(making $27K), and trying to put food on the table, a roof over their heads, taking care of their medical needs, keeping them in clothes and school. There are transportation costs involved in all of this. What is their safety net? $27K is not enough to keep them in affordable housing. When do they have time to read a book or write a paper?

It is not my intention to “attack” anyone, but I do question what we do about situations that already exist.

Anonymous said...

Teach Choices have Consequences!

Anonymous said...

Ann, a basic lesson in economics eliminates increase in minimum wage as an option. For a very brief period of time minimum wage earners will get relief from a bump up. However, as the cost of labor increases, businesses must increase costs to cover the increased expense. So products and services will cost more. Ultimately, everyone ends up paying increased prices and minimum wage earners are back where they started.

And those businesses that rely upon unskilled labor (those most likely to earn minimum wage) produce the simplest products/services -which are precisely the products/services those making minimum wage can afford. The "poor" pay more b/c the "poor" cost more to employ.

Increasing education in skills is a great idea - but what makes you think those who wouldn't study in regular high school will do any better in tech school? Right now, under the Obama administration's plan for technical education, anyone can get into junior colleges and tech school with the aid of scholarships and cheap student loans. Why is this not working? What has occurred is students who would regularly attend state universities or private institutions are taking advantage of the junior college deals, which does nothing to aid those you have identified as poor.

There really is a character dimension to our discussion. This does not translate into a claim that if you're poor you have bad morals or bad character. It does mean that if you're poor and do nothing to change that fact you're either ignorant of certain common sense facts (learning disabled students fall into this category and their socio-economic status is not their fault) OR you are the victim of poor health (again, not your fault) OR you are waiting for something external to your own efforts to change your situation (someone else will take care of you - the immoral motive). That third category is one where I become highly suspicious of motivations and values underlying poverty. I think this is reasonable and rebuts your generalized suggestion that conservatives leap immediately to the assumption that the poor cause their own problems.

Anonymous said...

Everyone who is healthy and of normal intelligence begins life with one safety net - the human forebrain (the executive control system) permits humans to think reflectively on the past and to make plans for the future. Yes, some have the financial resources given to them to cover certain sins and mistakes. But the vast majority of us must learn from mistakes and live with the results.

For example, in your scenario of a family making $27K with 3 or 4 children, at what point in this couple's history did they decide it was a good idea to have one child? Two? Three? Four? At some point one would think it was time to quit making babies. Your scenario does put a reasonable, logical problem-solver into a bit of a bind, which is probably your intent. But in reality your scenario is rare. It would be much easier for me to provide support services for this poorly planned family if I knew there weren't a corresponding half dozen single moms with 2, 3 or 4 children by two or more absent fathers lined up behind them in the welfare line. And you'll have to admit, my scenario lines up more closely with the populations of Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, etc.

One complaint today is that people in manufacturing or administrative careers have lost their jobs and replaced them with low-paying service jobs. Further, is the claim that this is unusual in history and that special programs are needed to cover this unusual trend. But this is simply not true. Products and services have a life cycle. And every generation or so new technologies completely eliminate entire markets. Those who accept these facts have probably come to terms with another important term - "creative destruction." That means we need to aggressively search for the "next big thing" in any market we serve. It is this continual search that makes people economically secure. It explains why learning is critical.

Both your analysis and your solutions are short-sighted, Ann.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:11, and 10:13 (I suspect you are the same person)

I still haven't heard how to address the issue of poverty as it exists right now -

I also think that it is a simplification of the those in poverty to classify them in three categories - mentally challenged, disabled, and looking for someone to "take care of you". Having worked with a program that provides a safety net for families working to become self-sustaining - I know that not all people who live in poverty fit into those 3 very convenient categories. There are people, who through no fault of their own, find themselves without a place to live and just need someone to give them a chance to put their lives back together again and then live on their own. I strongly disagree with your characterization of the poor - as people who are always looking for someone to "take care of them".

Again, I ask the question, which hasn't been answered yet. What is your solution?

Anonymous said...

To suggest that your question is being ignored repeatedly implies you opponents are simply unable to respond. Perhaps you believe there is not conservative answer to the problem of poverty. But there is a conservative response.

Liberals argue that poverty is the result of an injustice, that those who "have" are bound by some law to provide for those who "have not." Further, they argue that poverty demonstrates that something is wrong - that is, something has gone wrong with "the system" if people are found to live in poverty. Many liberals argue that those who are wealthy can only have obtained wealth as a result of taking resources away from those who are poor.

But this is a wrong view of poverty. Poverty is simply an outcome and is unrelated to morality. Yes, immoral people can and do cheat and take advantage of others, put them at a disadvantage, and thereby become wealthy. But some poor people can and do cheat and take advantage of other, put them at a disadvantage, and thereby become wealthier for a short period of time. The motive is the same; the outcome is different only by scale. When a street person tells you a long, sad story, which is a lie, and asks you for a dollar, and you give it to him, and you find him a week later telling a different story, ....

If you dedicate your life to stamping out poverty, you are simply concentrating on a set of mathematical formulas. You'll find yourself sitting in the homes of millions of people trying to explain to them that they are poor and that they need help. (The Democrat party bosses know this already.) Those who have already accepted this message spend much of their time seeking more and more help, instead of preparing to earn a living.

I recommend you instead dedicate your life to building strong character and moral values in yourself and others, rather than to the surface level faux problem of poverty.

The solution. Here is the message that must be communicated everyday of every person's life from the moment they can understand: If you do not become fully educated, learn a valuable skill, and learn to trade fairly with other people, you will be poor. Period. And we must allow them to become poor. You are free to be poor, remain poor, die poor, and be buried poor.

If you truly fit the two categories in which it is clear you are unable to earn a living, then you will be modestly cared for. If a tornado wipes our your home, your workplace, and your bank, then you'll get some temporary help - probably indexed to your savings plan and your credit rating in a way that those who have been most responsible over the course of their lives will get more help. After all, that would be a better investment for the govt.

Further, if you have good character, work hard, and love others - they will love you back when have a need.

You are trying to solve the wrong problem, Ann.