How To Be Wrong-Headed About The Right Kind Of Affordable Housing Assistance

A house in a corner lot in Charlotte North Carolina with a realtor's sign on the lawn
Charlotte house photo by Daniel X. O'Neil is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Hoping to rent in Charlotte NC? Only 'high quality' dollars count in Landlord eyes.

From the “Don’t feel bad, it’s OK to rent” department

“I’m sorry, Mr. Brewster Twillingate-Smithers III, but I will not rent one of my apartments to you because your income is zero, not withstanding your weekly million-dollar subsidy from the family trust.”

Absurd? Of course, if for no other reason that Twillingate-Smithers is building a castle in the Bahamas, not attempting to rent a home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Nonetheless, the law permits a Charlotte landlord to make such a refusal.

On the other hand consider Ms. Macintosh, also with zero income because she physically cannot work. She receives a disability pension. Not good enough, Ms. Macintosh.

Subsidy income can legally ignored in Charlotte by landlords, who are therefore free to turn down your rental application. Ms. Macintosh’s experience is a much more likely-to-happen event.

In Charlotte, housing organizations are working to get this harmful, discriminatory law off the books.

Bravo!

Except, just what is ‘wrong-headed’ about it (as expressed in this article’s headline)?

Absolutely nothing, but this comment from a local housing leader in Spectrum News says it all:

“It’s very hard to go from homelessness to homeowner,” says Ryan Carter of Habitat for Humanity Charlotte. “We need desperately a stable rental market so families can transition from rental to homeowner.”

Well, at affordablehousingaction.org we have nothing against a stable rental market, whatever that means. Nor do we have anything against Habitat for Humanity, one of our favourite organizations in the entire world.

But really! We’re getting the message here that the housing crisis can not be defeated, nor can a nation be truly great, until everybody owns a house. Those of us at affordabehousingaction.org who are satisfied renters feel that this sentiment is just a little over the top.

Wrong-headed, in fact.

And that sentiment particularly applies to those of us who have owned houses, felt it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and don’t plan to again.

So please read more on Charlotte’s concerns about changing discriminatory laws. At the same time try, if you can, to imagine rental housing as potentially something other than a kind of halfway house or purgatory for the unfortunate on their long journey to the pot of gold at the end of the modern rainbow — the American Dream.

Read more about SOID (Source of Income Discrimination) at Spectrum News: Housing Organizations Try to Stop “Income Discrimination”