In ISAAC we’ve been painfully aware of housing inequities for so long that it feels like a “silver lining in the storm cloud” that COVID-19 is changing the conversation about ending our housing inequities. All this is being discussed for those impacted most by housing inequities:
- Essential workers having no sick pay, no health insurance, and very low wages is not how “essential workers” should be treated.
- It is a public health crisis when members of our community don’t have healthy living conditions and working conditions.
- Sheltering large numbers of people together is not a healthy response to homelessness and is life threatening during a pandemic. Using hotel rooms for temporary housing instead of congregate sheltering helps decrease health risks.
- Structural poverty and racism increase people’s risk for diseases, such as COVID-19.
Many members of our Housing Task Force are under great stress, working in agencies responding to the financial & emotional pain created by COVID-19. We’re very grateful that new housing solutions are being put into practice, and we are continuing to discuss them as future next steps:
- Raise awareness that housing inequities are a Public Health concern.
- End evictions and mortgage foreclosures, understanding that people must have access to quality housing. Housing is a human right.
- Significantly increase the numbers of housing vouchers that are available and accepted in our community, so many more people will have safe, quality housing, and landlords will have the guarantee of rent payment, and supportive services when needed.
- Provide a living wage/income, safe working conditions and health insurance so that people can still feed their families, be healthy and keep a roof over their heads.
- Use community funds to buy rental properties from landlords hurt by COVID-19 and turn those properties into housing that’s permanently affordable to people with the lowest paid jobs.
We are looking forward to more conversations with partners at all levels, on how COVID-19 is teaching us to love our neighbors, so that all Community Members are held as Beloved.
Yes, you can still help by supporting the Housing Equity ordinance!
We are the ones who can give the Kalamazoo City Commissioners the community support they need in order to pass the Housing Equity ordinance! Would you help by adding your voice to this pre-written letter? Please click the link below to add your voice to this community letter that will be sent to all members of the City Commission. The letter is written already, you can fill in your information in 5 or so minutes or write more if you’d like. Either is great. Please share this link with your congregation, organizations, allies and community partners.
– Tobi Hanna-Davies, Housing Task Force co-chair with Stephanie Hoffman, and Dr. Charlae Davis, Executive Director