Affordable housing in America

Photo: woodleywonderworks / Flickr Like in Monopoly, the landlords get richer while their tenants get poorer.

Photo: woodleywonderworks / Flickr
Like in Monopoly, the landlords get richer while their tenants get poorer.

David Moe
Sun City, Calif.

Affordable housing in America is a major concern. For many families, two-thirds of their income goes to rent or house payment. A lack of low-cost housing is a major problem in many parts of the country. When couples who make as much as $100,000 a year are struggling because of the cost of housing, there is something wrong with the system. On top of that, some couples who make $100,000 a year can’t afford to buy a home, due to college debt. Some people have over $100,000 of debt when they graduate from college or law school.

The last few years before I retired, I drove a tour bus in Alaska. I talked with one of the drivers, a college student, who came to Alaska to drive during the summer. He said, “most of what I make each month goes for rent.” So I asked, “what do you use for food?” He answered, “my credit card.” He drove bus all summer and it cost him several thousand dollars on his credit card. How crazy is that?

Is there any wonder many people in America are angry? With things so out of balance, many people are struggling to keep their heads above water. I know of people who are living in a converted garage, people living in their cars, seniors living with their children and/or grandchildren, several people who live in a small room and share a single bathroom. Are these unusual examples? Not at all.

When wealthy people who own apartment buildings keep raising the rent on their tenants, it forces those tenants to do unusual things to survive. It makes me angry when I hear wealthy people complain about their property taxes, when it is the tenants who are paying those taxes with their rent. When a person who cannot afford to make a down payment on a home is forced to rent for their entire life, they have paid for three homes by the time they’re done.

The system has got to change or there will be widespread riots in America. When the majority of people are controlled by the few, the French Revolution will look like a Sunday School picnic.

David Moe was born in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1964 and received his M.A. degree from San Francisco State University in 1975. He spent four years in the Navy and 32 years in the insurance business. He is married to his wife, Thordis, and they have two daughters and four grandchildren. They now live in Sun City, California.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 9, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.