Empty Houses, Empty Lives

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In 2008, there were an estimated 19 million vacant homes in this country. Banks hurriedly foreclosing on homes that no one could afford to buy. This count does not include run down houses across the country in poor neighborhoods of large cities that have set vacant for years.

With the growing number of homeless, it causes one to wonder, why we have so many people living on the streets when there are houses standing vacant? Why in this ongoing crisis are we not putting those houses to use?

The answer is simple. People were evicted from these homes because they could not afford to pay the rising mortgage costs. Rather, than make mortgage rates more affordable and thus continue to provide people with homes, banks and mortgage companies decided on an “All or Nothing Policy.”

The result is that these homes sit empty, the banks and mortgage companies are making no income off the empty properties and the average citizen is living on the street.

The theory behind all this, is that once more jobs are created, and these homeless people are put back to work, they will once again buy or rent homes at “high” costs and make huge profits for the institutions that are holding these homes.

The reality is that even if there was a sudden surge in the job market homeless people would be the last people who would be hired. Without proper facilities to bathe, do laundry, and take care of personal hygiene employers will not see them as potential employees.

While creating jobs is necessary in todays economy, giving people back their dignity, a safe place to live, and a chance of getting back on their feet is paramount.

It is time we quit looking at the bottom line and instead looked to the future and asked ourselves, how could we use these empty houses to better the lives of all Americans?

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