This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.
A few days ago we talked about government benefits in a general sense. Today we’re going to drill down and talk about housing assistance.
The bare basics for survival, the base for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, are food, water, and shelter. People need places to live, to provide them with security, and to protect them from the elements.
As someone who lived on couches and out of suitcases for years, I can definitely say that not having a place that is “yours” leads to an incredible sense of insecurity beyond even not being sure of your shelter or having a safe place to keep things. It attacks your sense of security on every level, constantly, and if you’ve never been homeless it can be difficult to put yourself in that mindset.
In many places, a form of public welfare is the provision of government subsidized housing for the disenfranchised. Poor persons are provided with housing at a significant discount, with the city or state picking up the balance.
In Chicago this is managed by the Chicago Housing Authority, which is itself the biggest landlord in the city. It was formed in the late 1930s to clear out the city’s unlivable slums, and provide housing for war veterans.
Other public housing is provided in the form of Section 8 vouchers, in which the government does not own the housing, but instead provide the poor with a portion of their rent paid to private landlords.
The issues that arise with all forms of public housing come from the fact that the poor are limited in where they can choose to live, and often these developments come in some of the poorest neighborhoods with the lowest property values, and the highest crime rates. The poor often do not have a choice as to where they can live.
In Shadow Decade the climate refugees moving to Chicago are placed in massive Block apartment buildings by the CHA, with little regard for the composition of these neighborhoods or what demographic conflicts might arise from their placement.
While public housing is a great deal better than continued homelessness, these projects have their own problems, and we could be doing a lot better. But for now, at least, it is what it is.