More USA Families Homeless: Housing Costs Rise, Outpacing Low

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 01:20:04 -0400


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http://www.abcnews.com/sections/us/DailyNews/homelessthanksgiving_981126.htm=
l
=46WD  ABC News - November 26, 1998


HOUSING CRISIS STRIKES FAMILIES NATIONWIDE
HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

By Jenifer Joseph - ABCNEWS.com


[sidebar] "My littlest one asks me, 'Mommy, when are we going home?' But I
don't know what to tell him." - Dora Alzarado

[photo] Dora Alzarado and her sons are having their first Thanksgiving
without a home. They are living in a temporary shelter in Seattle. (Peter
Mumford/ABCNEWS.com)


S E A T T L E,   Nov. 26 - In the dimly lit living room of this temporary
apartment, the shades are all drawn around Dora Alzarado, who is staring at
the cold concrete floor and beginning to cry.

     Two weeks ago, she was still enjoying the freshly laid linoleum floor
in her renovated kitchen of the 50-year-old home her family had owned for
nine years.

     Thoughts of last year's Thanksgiving, the hours she spent in that
kitchen on the turkey and pumpkin pie, draw more tears. Everything has
changed because that kitchen in the beautiful South Seattle home is no
longer hers.

     In a cruel twist of fate, 39-year-old Dora, her husband and three
children lost their home. They've had to move into an emergency apartment
provided by the city at a rent of $4 a day.

     And now the Alzarados are spending their first Thanksgiving homeless.

*Forced Out by Housing Costs

The Alzarados are among the fastest growing segment of the homeless
population today - low- and middle-class families who've been forced from
their homes or apartments because their wages haven't kept up with rising
housing costs.

     In today's booming economy - so robust for so many - affordable
housing is becoming scarcer by the day.

     In fact, the typical middle-class family had nearly 3 percent less
wealth in 1997 than in 1989, despite the stock-market boom, according to a
study to be released in January from the Economic Policy Institute.

     Part of that is because the richest 10 percent of households in the
United States have reaped 85.8 percent of growth in the stock market since
1989.

*Blame the Economy

It's hard to understand how middle-income families in good times are
redefining the face of homelessness in America.

     Part of this problem can be blamed on the booming economy itself, says
Beth Rubin, associate professor of sociology at Tulane University and
co-author of the newly released book Beside the Golden Door: Policy,
Politics and the Homeless.

     Rubin points to the recent trend in cities toward gentrification,
bulldozing flop houses - where the Alzarados would have been able to move
to in decades past - to make room for the pricey condos that few
middle-income workers can afford.

     "Homelessness used to be middle-aged white men with alcohol problems,"
Rubin says. "But now it's entire families. The Alzarados are not a unique
case."

     And the future doesn't look much brighter.

      "While it was a hot political topic in the '80s," she says,
"homelessness has lost its political cach=E9, and that really worries us."

*Looking for Helping Hands

Meanwhile, the number of families in need is booming.

      In Seattle, for example, Crisis Clinic housing specialist Greg Wong
reports that his organization's hotline has logged 24 percent more calls
from families needing emergency shelter in the first 10 months of this year
compared to last.

     "For every one family in Seattle who gets placed in a shelter or
apartment, four others are turned away," he says. "People call us from the
Greyhound Bus station as soon as they get into Seattle. They hear that
Seattle is a boomtown, and that's true if you're in high-tech, but if you
don't have the right job skills and you have a few kids, it can be tough.
Affordable housing is hard to come by."

      And in that sense, Wong says, families like the Alzarados should
consider themselves lucky.

*A False Security?

But Dora Alzarado is still shell-shocked. Barely able to speak openly about
it, she hasn't told her parents, or any friends, that her family lost their
house.

     "For so long we felt secure," she says. After they took out a second
mortgage on their home to remodel, Manuel Alzarado's employer drastically
cut his hours cooking at a restaurant around the same time that Dora had
quit her job.

     Manuel changed jobs to make up the wage losses, but that didn't fix
the problem. Soon, the couple were looking at bankruptcy. And then they
lost their house.

     They have until January to come up with a plan. That's when they must
move out of the emergency apartment.

     "My littlest one asks me, 'Mommy, when are we going home?'" Dora says.
"But I don't know what to tell him."

END FORWARD
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http://www.abcnews.com/sections/us/DailyNews/homelessthanksgiving_981126.htm=
l

=46WD  ABC News - November 26, 1998



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>HOUSING CRISIS STRIKES FAMILIES
NATIONWIDE

HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS


By Jenifer Joseph - ABCNEWS.com

</paraindent>


[sidebar] "My littlest one asks me, 'Mommy, when are we going home?'
But I don't know what to tell him." - Dora Alzarado


[photo] Dora Alzarado and her sons are having their first Thanksgiving
without a home. They are living in a temporary shelter in Seattle.
(Peter Mumford/ABCNEWS.com)=20



S E A T T L E,   Nov. 26 - In the dimly lit living room of this
temporary apartment, the shades are all drawn around Dora Alzarado, who
is staring at the cold concrete floor and beginning to cry.=20


     Two weeks ago, she was still enjoying the freshly laid linoleum
floor in her renovated kitchen of the 50-year-old home her family had
owned for nine years.=20


     Thoughts of last year's Thanksgiving, the hours she spent in that
kitchen on the turkey and pumpkin pie, draw more tears. Everything has
changed because that kitchen in the beautiful South Seattle home is no
longer hers.=20


     In a cruel twist of fate, 39-year-old Dora, her husband and three
children lost their home. They've had to move into an emergency
apartment provided by the city at a rent of $4 a day.


     And now the Alzarados are spending their first Thanksgiving
homeless.


*Forced Out by Housing Costs=20


The Alzarados are among the fastest growing segment of the homeless
population today - low- and middle-class families who've been forced
from their homes or apartments because their wages haven't kept up with
rising housing costs.=20


     In today's booming economy - so robust for so many - affordable
housing is becoming scarcer by the day.


     In fact, the typical middle-class family had nearly 3 percent less
wealth in 1997 than in 1989, despite the stock-market boom, according
to a study to be released in January from the Economic Policy
Institute.


     Part of that is because the richest 10 percent of households in
the United States have reaped 85.8 percent of growth in the stock
market since 1989.


*Blame the Economy=20


It's hard to understand how middle-income families in good times are
redefining the face of homelessness in America.


     Part of this problem can be blamed on the booming economy itself,
says Beth Rubin, associate professor of sociology at Tulane University
and co-author of the newly released book Beside the Golden Door:
Policy, Politics and the Homeless.


     Rubin points to the recent trend in cities toward gentrification,
bulldozing flop houses - where the Alzarados would have been able to
move to in decades past - to make room for the pricey condos that few
middle-income workers can afford.=20


     "Homelessness used to be middle-aged white men with alcohol
problems," Rubin says. "But now it's entire families. The Alzarados are
not a unique case."=20


     And the future doesn't look much brighter.=20


      "While it was a hot political topic in the '80s," she says,
"homelessness has lost its political cach=E9, and that really worries
us."


*Looking for Helping Hands=20


Meanwhile, the number of families in need is booming.=20


      In Seattle, for example, Crisis Clinic housing specialist Greg
Wong reports that his organization's hotline has logged 24 percent more
calls from families needing emergency shelter in the first 10 months of
this year compared to last.


     "For every one family in Seattle who gets placed in a shelter or
apartment, four others are turned away," he says. "People call us from
the Greyhound Bus station as soon as they get into Seattle. They hear
that Seattle is a boomtown, and that's true if you're in high-tech, but
if you don't have the right job skills and you have a few kids, it can
be tough. Affordable housing is hard to come by."=20


      And in that sense, Wong says, families like the Alzarados should
consider themselves lucky.


*A False Security?=20


But Dora Alzarado is still shell-shocked. Barely able to speak openly
about it, she hasn't told her parents, or any friends, that her family
lost their house.


     "For so long we felt secure," she says. After they took out a
second mortgage on their home to remodel, Manuel Alzarado's employer
drastically cut his hours cooking at a restaurant around the same time
that Dora had quit her job.=20


     Manuel changed jobs to make up the wage losses, but that didn't
fix the problem. Soon, the couple were looking at bankruptcy. And then
they lost their house.

                   =20

     They have until January to come up with a plan. That's when they
must move out of the emergency apartment.


     "My littlest one asks me, 'Mommy, when are we going home?'" Dora
says. "But I don't know what to tell him."


END FORWARD

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ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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