Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Decent, Safe, and Affordable"

This is the free epic for the February 5, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl reaching its $200 goal. Most of the poetry is currently tied up in the half-price sale, but I just wrote this one yesterday. I finally figured out why Terramagne-America has such a better housing situation compared to here. This poem fills the "complex" square in my 2-1-19 You Are card for the Valentines Bingo fest. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Decent, Safe, and Affordable"

[November, 2001]

In 2001, Jimmy McMillan launched
The Rent Is Too Damn High party and
was elected mayor of New York City.

He began a major program for
affordable housing on the premise
that shelter is a human right and
thus it should not beggar people.

"Everyone," McMillan said,
"deserves to enjoy decent,
safe, and affordable housing."

He worked to end poverty
and hunger by including
options for healthy food in
public and affordable housing,
and an end to food deserts.

Lower rents created more jobs,
freeing up capital so that businesses
could afford to hire more workers,
which raised tax revenues.

He formed a board to seek out
and purchase unoccupied buildings
to convert into public housing.

He promoted free college
and tax credits for commuters,
especially those using mass transit;
and he opposed any cuts in spending
related to education or elderly care.

At first, politicians and businessmen
argued with him constantly, but
over time his good results
gained more momentum.

A few other cities began
to boost their own programs too.


[November, 2005]

In 2005, McMillan was elected
senator of New York state.

He expanded his program
for affordable housing from
New York City throughout
the rest of the state.

He also supported
family values, arguing
that a good job should
support a whole household,
along with other benefits, so
one parent could stay home
to raise children if they wished.

He made a point of insisting that
either the mother or the father
could serve as the homemaker.

He finally pushed through a program
for free tuition at community and
state colleges for New York residents,
and another providing free mass transit
for senior citizens and the disabled.

Expanding from his original concerns on
fair housing, McMillan spoke out against
sex reassignment performed without
the consent of an intersex individual.

"They are normal human beings,"
he declared, "just born different."

So New York became the first state
to ban such surgeries, reserving
intervention in minors for cases
where it was medically necessary.

Several states followed his examples,
improving housing and human rights.


[January 26, 2009]

McMillan was sworn in
as the 15th Secretary of
the Department of Housing
and Urban Development.

President Obama named him
to lead the Department and
the U.S. Senate confirmed him
to expand improvements to
the current housing market.

He worked on complex issues,
solving them a piece at a time.

Macmillan's strategic plans
required that each community
must have sufficient housing for
its population size and demographics.

He encouraged businesses to build
planned communities alongside
new factories or office buildings,
so employees could live near work
without overcrowding local resources.

He rolled out housing-first programs for
homeless people, and housing assistance
for the unemployed and disabled people
to prevent them from becoming homeless.

He launched development of public housing
as well as open-market affordable housing
for both rental and owned properties.

He networked with Muslim organizations
to offer halal mortgages and other alternatives
to everyone who wanted to avoid the debt
and interest of conventional mortgages.

Macmillan also studied natural disasters
and required communities to furnish shelters
for their population, either private ones like
basements and safe rooms, or public ones
sunken under parks and bus stops.

He made some arrangements with
Governmental Emergency Management,
working together to ensure housing for
people after disasters, and to make
housing more resistant to destruction.

Welcome to America Refugee Management
had been founded by German Jews back in
World War II, and now served refugees from
Mexico, India, China, the Philippines, El Salvador,
Guatemala, the countries that once made up
the former Soviet Union, and beyond.

Macmillan worked with WARM too,
helping find homes and services
for refugees and other immigrants.

He focused on infrastructure
to support the housing projects,
making sure that everyone had
adequate water and energy.

That revealed worrisome trends
out west, where many cities were
overspending their water budget.

So Macmillan started programs
encouraging people to move out of
areas with increasing water problems
or severe susceptibility to disasters.

He also supported mixed-income
and mixed-use neighborhoods with
live-work buildings and diverse activities
as a natural means of revitalization
and upward mobility, instead of
gentrification and ghettos.

Observing generational changes,
he promoted the development of
multigenerational housing design
with attention to aging in place
and the need for accessibility.

He encouraged developers
to build infrastructure that would
support intentional neighboring
like front porches, common houses,
and a neighborhood square.

Hot topics came and went
during his years in office.

McMillan did not oppose
marriage equality, and
in one memorable debate
he said, "If you want to marry
a shoe, I'll marry you."

He just wanted everyone
to have the kind of family
they preferred, with a decent,
safe, and affordable home to put it in.

Thanks to him, a lot more people
got to live the American Dream.

* * *

Notes:

2001 -- Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is Too Damn High party was elected mayor of New York City. He instituted a major program for affordable housing on the premise that shelter is a human right and should not beggar people. A few other cities began to boost their own programs too.

2005 -- Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is Too Damn High party was elected senator of New York state. He expanded his program for affordable housing from New York City throughout the rest of the state. Several states followed his example.

January 26, 2009 -- Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is Too Damn High party was sworn in as the 15th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on January 26, 2009. President Obama named McMillan to lead the Department and the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination to expand improvements to the housing market in the face of current challenges. His strategic plans required that each community must have sufficient housing for its population size and demographics. He rolled out housing-first programs for homeless people, housing assistance for unemployed and disabled people to prevent them from becoming homeless, public house, open-market affordable housing for rental and owned properties, and other popular initiatives. He also supported mixed-income and mixed-use neighborhoods as a natural means of revitalization and upward mobility.

* * *

"The largest challenge that we face, from my perspective, is the ability to continue moving forward so the agency will have a single mission: that is, to provide decent, safe, and affordable housing."
-- Alphonso Jackson

In local-America, affordable housing is such a crisis that not a single county has enough to meet its population's need and minimum wage doesn't cover rent anywhere in the country. Consequently, many people are rent burdened (paying more than 30% of income on rent) or severely rent burdened (paying more than 50% of income on rent). Local proposals include a lot of extremely unpopular fixes to force change from the top down. There are saner solutions, such as this toolkit of many options that communities can tailor to their unique needs. One that T-America uses is simply refusing to grant permits for building more of housing they already have plenty of (such as luxury condos) until there has been enough construction of things in short supply (such as affordable housing). They also construct new housing alongside new workplaces such as factories, offices, or hospitals; reserve nearby housing for local workers; and providing oniste housing as a perk for some jobs, such as park rangers.

Food deserts make it difficult or impossible for people to get healthy food. Here are some solutions.

Housing first views a safe residence as a necessary prerequisite to solving other problems, no strings attached. One excellent approach is to put homeless people in all the vacant houses and other buildings standing around empty. It is also crucial to prevent homelessness by intervening before people lose their living space. Learn how to help the homeless, and you can start by asking what they want.

In the breadwinner model, one worker can support a whole household. In addition to the practical benefits, studies show that parental care benefits children. In Terramagne-America, it is increasingly common for couples to alternate who stays home and who goes to work. They may switch based on available employment, when children are born, or other factors. Here's how to get started as a homemaker.

Free tuition for all is a necessity if society demands college education for workers. Some states already offer free tuition, at least to some students. There are also online options. You can campaign for free college.

Free mass transit benefits everyone. It improves quality of life for senior citizens and the disabled. Some people are working toward free mass transit.

Intersex children have no rights to their bodily integrity or fertility, and are routinely mutilated in surgeries that provide no medical benefits. The Intersex Society of North America recommends that treatment of intersex children should be restricted only to what is medically necessary, not cosmetic, until the intersex person grows old enough for informed consent. Unfortunately, the organization still insists on binary gender assignment, despite the fact that intersex people have a higher tendency toward nonbinary identity. Given the biological context, a socially assigned gender should be at most considered a very tentative guess, and adults should be prepared to change it if the child informs them that they guessed wrong. Societies which recognize more than two genders may offer better support, as with the two-spirits of tribal cultures. Local-Malta has already banned forced surgeries for intersex people. Here are some ways to support their rights.

According to Islam, riba (interest on debt) is haram (forbidden). To avoid this prohibition, halal (permitted) mortgages may use co-investment or other ways of enabling large purchases. These often offer better terms than conventional mortgages, so they appeal to more than just Muslim buyers.

Emergency preparedness largely began with Civil Defense. In local-America it hasn't developed into a very cohesive system, as much of it fell apart after the Cold War ended. In Terramagne-America they have a thriving system of bunkers useful in all types of emergency, and people generally have a good level of family preparation. Emergency response includes making plans for businesses and events in case of mishap. Terramagne divides emergencies into two broad categories based on response: evacuation vs. shelter.

Terramagne-America doesn't have FEMA. Instead it has the far more effective Governmental Emergency Management. GEM trains people to handle various kinds of crisis and deploys them at need. It stockpiles emergency supplies, from personal kits to bulk goods to mobile offices and modular homes that can be dropped into place as soon as possible after a disaster. GEM emergency housing is rated to last for at least 20 years, and different models are designed to withstand local hazards across all the regions in America.

Before and during World War II, Jewish refugees fled from the Nazis. Other countries often refused to help them and returned them to Nazi hands where they were then murdered en masse. That process, called refoulement, was banned after the war but local-Earth has returned to rejecting and killing refugees. The source countries have changed but the reaction hasn't really. Terramagne has somewhat better responses.

Smart growth features principles that encourage better use of urban lands rather than building over farmlands or wilderness. Here is a scorecard to gauge how smart a project is and some other measurements. There are small and large ways to improve your home town. Use these tools to promote smart growth.

Water budget refers to how much liquid can be removed from the local hydrosphere without causing harm. Many watersheds are already under stress, with the desert southwest and California living far beyond their water budget. The east is in somewhat better shape. Cape Town, South Africa was the first major city to face running out of water, but others will surely follow. One very prudent solution is to migrate people away from disaster-prone areas, such as through buyouts and other incentives. Voluntary movement is massively preferable to involuntary movement after a disaster has already rendered an area uninhabitable. This guide explains how to use water budgets to minimize or avoid such problems.

Mixed-income housing aims to create neighborhoods that mingle people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. When done artificially, this has pros and cons. Class differences in use of common areas can be extreme. This often causes great friction in mixed-income communities. In a poor community, people use common space for gathering due to living in tiny private spaces, so for instance the lobby of a public housing development tends to function as a lounge, whereas the lobby of an upscale apartment is used primarily for brief activities like waiting for a taxi. However, mixed-income neighborhoods evolve naturally when the housing spans a wide range of size and cost levels. Ideally you want blocks mostly filled with small 1-2 bedroom houses and/or medium 3-4 bedroom houses while the corners have large houses with 5+ bedrooms for large families or shareshousing groups. Corners can also hold duplexes, boarding houses, or small apartment buildings. In this way people can get anything from a single room to a big house, based on their needs and budget.

Mixed-use neighborhoods combine two or more purposes such as residential, retail, and entertainment. They offer many advantages and elements of success. They can be arranged in various ways such as live-work buildings and mini-city skyrises. Here is a handbook of effective development and some case studies of mixed-use neighborhoods.

Gentrification happens when rich people move into a formerly poor area, driving out the local residents. This disproportionately harms communities of color, and is a pernicious side effect of many urban improvement plans with often brutal results. Think about how to avoid these problems.

Ghettos are poor, isolated neighborhoods. They can change over time.

Generational changes in housing show in different preferences for home features. Multigenerational homes have design features to accommodate grandparents, parents, and children living together. Check out these house plans to see some of the many options for different needs. This flex condo grows with a family.

Aging in place has many benefits. Here are some aspects to consider in modifying a home or designing a new one for aging in place. Bear in mind that most accessible features cost more money to install, take up extra space, and have other disadvantages compared to other features; and that different limitations require different, sometimes mutually exclusive, modifications to support them. Therefore people should choose features based on their current or projected needs, and when possible, home design should make it easy to customize as needs change in the future without adding expensive or obtrusive features that are not needed. People who already have disabilities are better served by an accessible home designed for their particular disabilities, while currently able people are better served by an "adaptable" or "flex" home. Note that there is no such thing as truly universal design because people are not universal and have different needs. So diverse housing better suits the wide range of needs.

Intentional neighboring allows people to compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses. Here are some ways to connect with your neighbors.

Marriage equality began with interracial marriage and moved on to same-sex marriage. It should extend to rights for polyamorous and disabled people.

The American Dream varies, but home ownership consistently ranks among the top ten features. In L-America, this perception is rapidly fading due to poverty and debt. There are ways to make home ownership more accessible, especially for people of color.
Tags: activism, cyberfunded creativity, economics, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, politics, reading, weblit, writing
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