A friend recently asked what my thoughts were on affordable housing. My first response, “That’s a loaded question.”
My greatest fear is that I may never learn how to solve this problem in my own part of the world because visiting homes in remote post disaster struck regions of Haiti, El Salvador, and Nepal has forever shifted my perspective. The American culture has a skewed idea of what is affordable and the cost of housing is escalating out of control. This is not a problem unique to the United States and thus the solution varies greatly by region.
The families we met in Mahadevtar, a remote village in the mountains of Nepal, were very kind and overly generous hosts. While there, we conducted post disaster assessments; 98% of homes were destroyed and/or completely unsafe.
Simple farming families, the only thing affordable to them at that moment was the corrugated metal shack they were sleeping in. Namaste Nepal raised and distributed money to help these families rebuild, closing the gap between what is “affordable” and what is not in this region of Nepal.
The families we worked side by side with in El Salvador were both gracious hosts and hard workers. Habitat for Humanity does an excellent job of helping entire communities and regions develop affordable housing, one house at a time. Many homes in Ahuachapan had been destroyed by floods years earlier, but when we were there in 2013, several had been rebuilt and many more were in progress.
We helped one family build a new flood/earthquake resistant home and it was amazing to participate in the project.
My heart still aches for the people of Haiti. Six years after the horrible 2010 earthquake, many are still without an affordable safe home.
The recovery in Nepal and El Salvador is credited to the great network of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs or non-profits) and the partnerships with local government.
A strong infrastructure is absolutely critical to solving housing problems.
Haiti is lacking in organization and thus suffers the fate of great poverty and minimal housing. Why then can’t a country like the United States, one supposedly well supported with great infrastructure, solve critical housing issues like the lack of affordable housing?” I’m not sure which frustrates me more, the helplessness of Haiti or the complete arrogance of our American culture.
The City of Golden, CO is currently facing a dangerous lack of affordable housing. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Golden has drawn many new outdoor enthusiasts, but has yet to meet the new housing demand. I credit the City for hiring a staff member dedicated solely to affordable housing, but there is much yet to be done.
Neighborhood Rehab Project (NRP), a local non-profit, has now formed a team dedicated to helping to develop affordable housing in Golden.
A local architect and new member of this affordable housing team, I look forward to working with NRP and disproving my fear of not finding way to solve this problem locally.
That’s my 2 cents on the topic. Thanks for reading.