Term Paper: Affordable Housing Chicano Communities

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Chicano Community Housing Crisis

Chicano Housing Crisis Plagues U.S. Communities

Supporting the Latino Community

The Honorable Senator Murray of Washington State feels that immigration is one of the most important issues that Latino communities face. She takes the stance that immigration should be more compassionate towards the human side of immigration, while continuing to protect our national interests. She suggests a plan that will lead to a path towards immigration and full status. Her plan also includes attention toward the establishment of community health centers to increase access to healthcare for the Latino community.

A key focus of the plan is on providing better education for those that speak English as a second language. Improving education in the Latino communities will help to resolve many other issues, including housing issues. Housing for farm workers in Washington State is a key issue as well. Many of the farm workers cannot afford adequate housing. The new plan will provide grants to help address the farm worker housing issue, as well as education for the children of migrant workers.

Article 2: Street Dreams Are made of These

The face of the San Jose Chicano community is changing, as Chicanos must move to other areas of the state in search of cheaper housing and jobs. These changes have led to street violence among gangs. Violence in the communities started in the prisons. Divisions between North and South are shown by wearing "colors" indicating affiliation. Even those that are not a part of the gang scene must be careful what colors they wear on a daily basis.

Wearing of colors is a part of the Chicano need to find their own identity. They must show some type of affiliation with community as their neighborhoods become more blended into the local tapestry. Youngsters feel that they must do things to make themselves feel a part of the community. Sometimes the decision to break off and form a new community is a conscious one. It is these divisions that create a uniquely Chicano identity, but also what might eventually tear it apart.

Article 3: SHA Battles to Save County Affordable Housing Program

It is estimated that nearly 8,057 schoolchildren were homeless during the 2003-2004 school year. The Sacramento Housing Authority has recently approved subsidies to provide approximately 300 new housing units for low and very low-income families. However, this plan is being challenged by the Building Industry Association of Superior California (BIA). The lawsuit stems from the negative connotations that affordable housing represents.

However, when one actually gets to know the housing units themselves, and the people in them, they paint a different picture than opponents would have one believe. They do not present the negative appearance that one typically associates with affordable housing, but rather present an attractive appearance. The people within them are not "losers," but average people with jobs and a sense of pride, just like everyone else. The residents often went through tough times that were not the fault of their own. President Bush is in Favor of a bill that would cut many of these programs and leave people like these out on the streets.

Article 4: Withering Heights

Rising housing costs in Sherman Heights, a predominantly Chicano community, are forcing many long time residents to move. Housing costs on a one-bedroom apartment have risen from $425 per month in 2000 to nearly $675 in 2007. Rising rents have caused an influx of middle class families, displacing lower income families. Many are finding themselves homeless. Rising rents are seen as an attempt by property owners to cash in on the opportunities that are the result of a new ball park coming to the area. They are forcing low income families out in favor or higher income residents.

To further the blow, many residents are not given the mandatory 30-day notice to leave. A new "inclusionary housing" rule will force builders to set aside 10% of new homes for use by low or moderate income households. Many feel that this is a good start, but that it will not have any immediate results. The city is focusing on the new ball park and convention center, rather than the housing issue. As people continue to be forced from Sherman Heights, they also lose a part of their culture as well.

Article 5: Time to Remove the Rose Colored Glasses

Community Development Centers (CDCs) were begun with the best of intentions. However, many have been force to shut down or have suffered serious setbacks. These organizations operate largely from grants and funding from private organizations. The original purpose CDCs was to improve the economic, social and physical surroundings of the local community.

The primary efforts were to be achieved through partnerships with local community residents. However, through the years, the purpose of CDCs has narrowed to focus only on housing issues. Eventually, CDCs became more like corporate entities than the community organizations that they started out to be. Now, as many CDCs are failing in their efforts to provide a solid foundation for the communities that they serve, the focus is once again shifting back to a comprehensive model, as it was in the beginning.

Part II: Analysis of the Housing Issue

As one begins to examine the issues facing Chicano communities, the importance of housing issues and a sense of community cannot be ignored. The problem of inadequate housing for low-income families is a wide-spread problem. Communities in Southern California are particularly susceptible due to the high Chicano population. The crisis is different depending on the community. However, one thing is certain, a greater effort needs to be undertaken it we are to solve this issue for now and for the future. The following will address several facets of the housing issue in the U.S.

The Crisis of Affordable Housing

As we found in the articles, there are several key issues facing Chicano communities. The high number of homeless school children, only tells part of the story. The number of homeless in Chicano communities is on the rise. The costs of housing have risen disproportionate to the rises in income. This means that even those that could afford housing before now face eviction and potential homelessness. This creates a rise in the number of working poor. As we found in the articles, there is an insufficient number of housing units available to medium and low income families. This number is decreasing instead of increasing, despite new government programs to provide more.

Federal Housing Programs and Policies

There are several Federal housing programs targeted toward provision of housing for low to medium income families. Section 8 housing provides subsidies to property owners who commit to rent all of a portion of their properties to low income families. The families pay a small portion of the costs, and the government picks up the rest. This is similar to many programs for senior citizens as well. The property owner can take many tax breaks under this program that they could not otherwise take. However, there are also disadvantages as well. The Federal government places caps on the amount of rent that can be charged for the units. This placed a cap on the earning potential as well.

Those who can afford to own a home rather than rent may be eligible or many programs, such as Fannie Mae for first time home buyers. There are also special tax advantages to owning one's own home, such as a deduction for the mortgage. However, one must first meet the rigorous standards to qualify for these programs. It is not for everyone and there are many criteria to make certain that the person is actually ready for all of the responsibilities of home ownership. If the person is not actually ready for these responsibilities then it does not help in the long run, especially if they eventually must lose their home. These programs are not for the lowest income families.

For those that have lost their home, or can no longer afford one for various reasons, there are always homeless shelters. However, this is a last resort and does not meet the needs of many of the poorest of poor. These shelters often do not represent the best of living conditions. They are often overcrowded and must turn people away. It is difficult to work one's way up once they must resort to the homeless shelter as an address on job applications.

Local Government Affordable Housing Programs

The articles examined in Part 1 of this research focused on local efforts to save communities. They focused on local housing authorities and their struggle to provide housing for the residents of their communities. Growth and development in poor communities is guided by several steering committees. Each and every community, or city, has one or more of these commissions to help direct growth for a more sustainable economic future.

HOAC stands for Housing Operations Advisory Committee. This committee is responsible for measuring the needs of the community in terms of number of units… [END OF PREVIEW]

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