From the Editor

Affordable Housing: Our Ticket to the American Dream

By: Victor Abalos

C3X_7257There is no more effective path to the middle class than buying a house. It has always been and continues to be our ticket to the “American Dream.”

Owning a home provides our families with financial stability. It ensures our children will probably go to college if they want. Families that own their homes are healthier. They’re more engaged with their communities especially their children’s schools. The benefits go on and on.

That’s why the housing market bust of 2005 was such a seminal event for the lives of tens of thousands of Latinos in this region. We lost our homes or lost our chance to buy one. We became renters again and too many of us have stayed there – our numbers increasing disproportionately every year.

At the same time the availability of affordable housing has also decreased every year while the number of renters keeps increasing. Housing prices are back on the rise. Many are saying a crisis is ahead. The thousands of families that are homeless or hovering near it in this area will tell you we’re already there.

So what can you do as a local policymaker?

C3X_7270This month in the Latino Policy Connection we examine the ways local elected officials, especially those in city government, can work to create or provide affordable housing – not next year or soon – but now. And we take a look at a specific project in El Monte that provides a case study for other cities.

But this isn’t just a housing issue or a problem for cities.

One medium-sized school district I know of in this region has more than 500 families officially categorized as homeless. You know that impacts those children in the classroom. School board members can and should work with their city counterparts towards solutions. Almost every housing expert says regional solutions have the best chance of working.

I was tempted to Google a bunch of quotes about how important it is for us to work together and how leadership is about taking responsibility and then taking action. I know many others have made this argument far more eloquently than I can. Instead I’ll leave you with a version of a line Marco Firebaugh used to share with his staff, thanks to those who knew him well who shared it with me.

Let’s get “it” done.

Victor Abalos: Editor's Blog

Victor Abalos is Executive Director of the Southern California Latino Policy Center and Editor of the Latino Policy Connection.