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Colorado Has a Brilliant Plan To Fix the Affordable Housing Crisis: Just Sleep in Your Car
Secularist governments will do anything except the right thing
Brothers and sisters, you’re going to laugh-cry at today’s absurdity.
But first, the quick background story…
The state of Colorado has a chronic homelessness problem:
It’s one of the worst in the nation per capita for homelessness.
Over 10,000 people are homeless on any given night.
Over 1,000 veterans experience homelessness every year.
21,560 public school students experience homelessness every year.
It’s brutally cold in the winter, adding many dangerous risk factors.
And Colorado is absolutely to blame for the problem:
Housing is chronically unaffordable (this is the biggest reason by far)
They refuse to crack down on for-profit land-lorders
They refuse to ban Airbnb
They refuse to ban institutional investment in rentals properties
They refuse to build affordable owner-occupied houses
They banned outdoor camping
They allow corporations to suppress wages to keep housing unaffordable
They don’t have enough shelters because they never bothered to build them
They couldn’t be bothered to sufficiently invest in mental healthcare
In other words: Colorado set itself up for homelessness.
Like many states, it built a corporate economy and a social climate in which cities filled with homeless people were mathematically inevitable.
Luckily, the state’s brilliant bureaucrats now have a sure-fire solution to tackle homelessness:
Let hard-working families sleep in their cars.
I know what you’re thinking…
The people running Colorado must be high.
The program is temporary, at least for now.
But as Milton Friedman said:
“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”
Here’s how it works:
The city of Salida will provide an “SOS” (safe outdoor space.)
Local workers (that’s right — employed people, including restaurant staff, raft guides, and even working professionals) can apply for a parking space.
Approved applicants will then be allowed to sleep in their cars (how kind and generous is Colorado?!)
The city will provide basic services like trash removal, showers, and portable toilets.
The plan is to run the SOS until October. You know… right before it gets freezing cold and people need shelter more than ever.
You really can’t make this stuff up.
In order to be legally homeless in Colorado, you need to have a job and a car.
Oh, and did I mention that the program is overseen by not one but four money-burning bureaucracies? The Chaffee Housing Authority, Chaffee County Public Health, the City of Salida, and a non-profit called Bringing Everyone Through the Crisis of Housing.
But there is no through here. Homelessness will be a permanent and growing problem in the US, the UK, Canada, Aus, NZ, and a hundred other countries around the world until we deal with the root causes of the housing crisis.
This SOS nonsense is a terrible idea and everyone in Colorado knows it.
As one city councilor admitted:
“It’s not going to be perfect. I want the citizenry to know that. We’re on the Titanic and the captain can’t run around and ask everybody, ‘What do you think? Should we lower the lifeboats?’ ”
I’m sure you see how fatalistic her thinking is.
She wants to toss everyone in lifeboats.
Doesn’t she realize that ships quickly run out of lifeboats?
Doesn’t she realize it makes more sense to just fix the ship?
Obviously, we can applaud anyone with the heart to help the homeless, but what about the brains?
By the council’s own admission, Colorado is a sinking ship.
By the council’s own admission, full-time employees sleeping in cars isn’t ideal.
So why the heck don’t they ask: Why is Colorado sinking?
Colorado is sinking because the corporatists who run the state are too selfish to care about longest-term widest-spread wellbeing for humans.
Permanently fixing homelessness isn’t easy, but it’s simple. You essentially need just three things:
A mathematically-sound economy.
Adequate mental healthcare.
A mathematically-sound economy
In Colorado, it takes four times the state’s minimum wage to afford a median-priced rental.
So you have to work four full-time jobs just to pay a house-monpolizing land-lorder for the right to live indoors.
How vile and pathetic is that?
Call me old-fashioned, but the people who create 100% of the profits for the rich should be paid enough to stay alive.
Everyone on earth who works full-time should be able to afford to own a home.
The fix here is simple: Raise the minimum wage to a legitimate living wage and then index it to real inflation moving forward.
When parasitical corporations balk at the horrible thought of letting workers keep a larger percentage of the wealth they create, the state can threaten them with a job guarantee, meaning every Colorado citizen can choose to work for the state, county, city, or select NGO instead of taking abuse from the extractor class.
Welcome to the free market, corporatists.
A living wage job guarantee is a democratic power move that absolutely freaks out corporations because no one would ever have to work for less than the cost of living again.
(It’s either that or Colorado can ban corporate profit or tax it at 90+%, but it’s far better to just let workers keep the wealth they create in the first place.)
How do we define affordable homeownership?
Historically, it’s 2–3X the annual income of a single median full-time earner.
This allows even single parents to survive and thrive with kids.
And there’s a simple formula for making homeownership permanently and generationally affordable:
Build sufficient supply.
Rent-seeking includes unnecessary bureaucratic fees and permit costs, Airbnb and holiday rentals in residential neighborhoods, for-profit land-lording, and institutional investment in the human necessity of shelter via build-to-rent apartments.
Corporate-controlled governments will do anything except the right thing: Purge financialization from human shelter, then build more human shelter.
At the very least, if the city of Salida is already offering land, showers, toilets, and garbage pickup… why not just let people build small homes?
Adequate mental healthcare
Colorado needs to go all the way upstream and ask what is creating mental health problems in the first place. They need to tackle:
Child abuse and neglect
Trauma and social isolation
Discrimination and racism
Alcoholism and drug addiction
Poverty and debt
For each of these challenges, an ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a pound of cure.
We need to cherish kids and young people and veterans and minorities and re-structure our society and economy for widest-spread longest-term wellbeing, not corporate profit.
The homelessness pandemic
All of my readers should be concerned about the growing homelessness epidemic in America, Britain, Canada, and elsewhere.
Unless we restructure society and the economy, we’re headed for a world with significantly more homelessness — with zero homeownership and crushingly unaffordable rents for everyone “lucky” enough to hand over their life earnings to an institutional land-lorder.
This trend is inevitable:
The human right of shelter gets financialized.
Anything financialized eventually gets monopolized.
Anything monopolized eventually destroys the nation.
Do we want to live in a world with rampant homelessness for hundreds of millions, rent-slavery for billions, and a handful of parasitical trillionaires?
Or do we want easily-affordable homeownership for most, plus not-for-profit rentals and strong mental healthcare for the few who will never own, and zero corporate extractors?
The choice is ours.
Corporate-controlled Colorado has decided that a “temporary” four-bureaucracy homeless parking lot for working families is the best SOS they can offer the contributor class.
I know they can do better.
But what about the church of Jesus Christ, the man who cared about the poor more than anyone else in history?
When we will start converting our barely-used buildings or our acres of parking lots into affordable housing? When will we divest of any stock or assets that profits from human shelter? When will we start opening our wallets and our homes to strangers?
It starts with believing that the poor are worth loving at any personal cost.
Jared Brock is an award-winning Christian biographer, PBS documentarian, and the cell-free founder of the popular futurist blog Future Faith, where he provides thoughtful people with contrarian perspectives on the corporatist anti-culture. His writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Relevant, Esquire, The Guardian, Smithsonian, and TIME Magazine, and he has traveled to more than forty countries including North Korea. Join 25,000+ people who follow him on Medium, Twitter, and Substack.
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