Low-income families are some of the most vulnerable groups in society. This situation is not helped by the steadily rising cost of living, topped off by the staggering effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that 46% of lower-income persons reported struggled to pay bills, while 32% had problems with mortgage payments during the pandemic.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals names livable and inclusive human settlements as one of its goals for 2030. This cannot be achieved without paying particular attention to the plight of those living in poverty.
The question you may be asking now is: how can private individuals do their part? There are numerous ways to approach this, and these methods usually entail assisting in the provision of their physiological needs.
How You Can Provide Assistance
According to Abraham Maslow, the most basic needs of human beings are food, shelter, clothing, rest, and ability to reproduce. When these are accounted for, they can attend to their psychological needs.
One of the toughest crises low-income adults face today is finding adequate shelter. An appropriate home enables them to ably attend to other concerns. While providing housing seems too intimidating a task compared to supplying food or clothing, it is much more doable than you may think.
Become a landlord
There is such a thing as Section 8 property investment, which is a housing assistance program that allows low-income households to rent homes from investors. Certain real estate agencies are qualified to walk you through the process and even screen an initial batch of potential tenants on your behalf.
How does it work? Section 8 assists low-income tenants by having them pay for only around 30% of their monthly rent. The government answers for the rest of the payment, which is made to landlords regularly each month.
Of course, the ability to support low-income families is a benefit in itself. But as a landlord, the assurance of guaranteed on-time monthly payments is also a plus.
Donate to advocacy groups
While Section 8 is a more direct approach to providing appropriate shelter, not everyone has properties that they can lease. Making donations to organizations is also a welcome use of your available resources.
The U.S. is a big place, so there are naturally also plenty of organizations that are responding to the need for better and more affordable housing for families in need. Don’t just donate to any cause. Carefully look through mission and vision statements, projects, and transparency levels to find a nonprofit that you can trust and are fully willing to give financial support to.
GuideStar has an online directory that allows you to browse through various housing-focused organizations in the country. This is a good starting point for your search.
Volunteer and raise awareness
Making a one-time donation is one thing. But you may feel a tug in your heart to go further and commit to volunteer. Just like in making a donation, it requires a good amount of research before you should move forward in volunteering.
Volunteer work allows you to take part, not just financially, but in a variety of projects that introduce you to fellow advocates and individuals living in low-income households. Experiences gained through volunteering are unlike any other in opening opportunities to further your understanding of the cause. It also provides the invaluable gift of building new relationships.
As you grow more involved in your nonprofit community, you learn lessons that help you raise awareness about your advocacy. You become more equipped to spark conversations and encourage others to do the same.
The Road to the Future
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the road to creating sustainable human settlements has been long and winding. The virus only served to exacerbate an already difficult path. But this should not be a cause to lose hope because inclusive, long-term progress has never had a quick solution.
Another truth to live by is knowing that many others share the passion. Take the example of Albuquerque’s new Tiny Homes project, which provides transitional housing for homeless individuals as they work towards moving forward with their lives. The area can house around 40 people who only need to pay $30 monthly rent.
What’s more is that they are not the only ones who have done this. Los Angeles has also opened its own tiny home village for the same purpose: providing temporary shelter for those who need it urgently.
These are not the only solutions we need, of course. The path to sustainable cities takes a variety of approaches, with one thing in common: a shared heart for building a better future for every person.