Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Thieving

A movie poster advertises
Poster for the 1926 film The Splendid Crime. photo by Paramount/Famous Players/Lasky is in the the public domain
Movie fiction can make crime "splendid." In real life, it is ugly, demeaning and life changing, though some may be pressed to the point that they believe it to be necessary.

Affordable housing is not just a collection of construction material and land costs. It’s a purse that must stretch to cover a rental or purchase . . . after any and all other essential costs have been plucked out. Food and utility costs are some obvious essentials.

This series of articles covers essential costs or benefits that might not seem so obvious, but nonetheless, depending on how they are structured, can turn affordable housing into unaffordable housing.

As mentioned above, food and utility costs are obvious essentials in support of affordable housing. Okay, without utilities it may be possible to to limp along in the dark and cold, eating unheated food. Squatters know how this is done.

But food is a flat-out essential. What to do without it and without money to pay for it? There are a number possibilities, including

  • Food voucher programs such as food stamps
  • Food Banks
  • Shelter/Drop-in Meal Programs
  • School Meal Programs (usually children only)
  • and more, including . . . Thieving

It goes without saying that the last has potentially life-altering consequences for both individuals and families: fines that cannot be paid, incarceration, eviction with the associated banning for life from truly affordable public housing.

With a little reflection, it seems a poor choice for individuals and their families. But you have to eat. It’s literally a matter of life and death.

It’s not only a poor (if necessary) choice for families facing starvation, it is also a very bad choice for the community as a whole. Allowing citizens to be pressed to the point that theft is the only available eating option? It’s hugely expensive for taxpayers as a whole, with the costs associated with jailing thieves only the tip of the iceberg.

Is there any evidence that criminality is a problem for poverty-stricken individuals and families that are pushed to the limit, such as through the loss of shelter? Read more at THE CRIME REPORT: Rising Crime Rates Tied to Evictions: Philadelphia Study

The story in The Crime Report is based on research by academics who are specialists in criminology. Their research looks at how evictions interact with crime and neighbourhood stability, a connection which has not been given a lot of attention. The results of the research have been published in an open access article at SAGE journals: Eviction and Crime: A Neighborhood Analysis in Philadelphia

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