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It's Christmas time and the foreclosure notices in the Times haven't gotten any shorter. For too many in our community, there really is no room at the inn and they have been through hard times this year. Young folks can hopefully recover, but it's the older folks, especially single older women, who will have a harder time finding safe affordable housing in the future.
Millions of Americans in their 50s and older have not only lost their homes and equity, but have lived off their retirement accounts in order to survive this recession. If you look at your local foreclosures listed in the paper each week, you will see a few folks losing expensive homes, but most are losing their houses for the cost of a new fancy car.
We will not be able to build enough public housing to take care of all these folks as they grow older and we can't afford it. But maybe there is a simply solution that would help a few of those needing a safe home to recover.
A solution that could work is to have churches screen and match older Americans needing a home and people with extra space in their current home, like a finished basement or garage teen suite that is not being used in a nice neighborhood. This could happen without using government dollars, but it would require zoning laws to change and making sure your homeowners insurance is correctly done. If you violate any zoning law, your home insurance is void.
Would local zoning laws change to help make this legal and possible? Would Americans open up their hearts and homes to offer a good home for a older widower if they had space that wasn't being used?
For once, I wish our government would do the right thing and not just work for real estate developers and bankers. It should consider what space we have now that can be used for affordable housing that doesn't cost us more in tax dollars or those seeking to profit off public housing, which is expensive to keep up.
Just change the laws on zoning so we can start helping folks who need a break and a safe place to live. Maybe if we pay a permit or fee or registration with the local zoning department that would help.
This just seems like an easy solution to help with the affordable housing crisis and it doesn't cost our broke government any money.