Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I am a houser

by Maya Brennan, Center for Housing Policy

In the Center for Housing Policy's mission statement, our first goal is to expand awareness of the nation's housing needs. Along with our policy affiliate National Housing Conference, we refer to this part of our work as elevating housing to a top-tier national issue.

Housing became a top-tier issue for me while I was working as a landlord-tenant counselor. The stories I heard on the hotline showed me clearly that housing challenges undermine a household’s opportunities for success. Some stories, especially those featuring rats in places you don’t want to imagine, are permanently etched into my memory and serve as a balance if anyone claims that housing quality isn’t a serious problem.  The constant stream of calls about nonpayment of rent makes me see more than just numbers in affordability reports like Paycheck to Paycheck or Housing Landscape. And the fear in people’s voices as they contemplated an involuntary move adds weight to research on the detrimental effects of housing instability for individual health and children’s wellbeing.

And this was before the mortgage crisis.

Restoring a well-functioning housing market and ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing should be among our top national priorities (see this blog’s recent post on the 2012 presidential election).

We all have a story about how we became housers. Let’s tell these stories. It’s time to put housing back on the agenda and keep it there.

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