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Inequality and housing providers and advocates

Beneath almost every housing related issue is the specter of economic inequality. Because inequality is hidden within everyday issues, too many advocates have become accustomed to the "iniquity of inequality." MLK understood that inequality was the source of injustice. Inequality was at the root of his transition from civil rights to economic justice.

This year, the Guardian newspaper with the support of the Ford Foundation is doing a series on inequality. Their online survey seeks to find the key solution to increasing inequality. The choices on offer are:
  • Provide free and high quality education.
  • Raise the minimum wage. 
  • Raise taxes on the rich. 
  • Fight corruption. 
  • Provide more social protection for the poor and for communities. The Guardian includes:
    • policies and funding to mitigate the risks of unemployment, ill health and disability,
    • workers rights, and
    • a strong social safety net.
  • Stop the influence of the rich on politicians. 
  • Provide jobs for the unemployed including state jobs instead of offering welfare payments, or simply ignoring the problem.
Missing from the Guardian list is Universal Basic Income financed by a tax on robots.

Advocates can start shaping the discussion of inequality. Staff, members, program participants and stakeholders need to understand the difference between "fairness" (equality of opportunity) and "justice" (equality of outcome). The fallacy within the American Dream is the fact that not everyone came to America by choice. African Americans arrived as slaves. Appalachian Americans were deported criminals who become indentured servants. European and Asian nationalities were imported to work in heavy industry. All faced degrees of discrimination and structural barriers to social advancement.

It is the structural barriers to equality that challenge advocates today. Think of the expression coined by coach Barry Switzer "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." In a world with equal opportunity (fairness), beginning with advantage will continue to perpetuate inequality (injustice).

The Trump administration's Whack a Mole strategy of surfacing one emotional issue after another keeps advocates diving head first into the mole holes instead of addressing root causes of inequality. Finding the balance between resistance and advocacy requires hard disciplined work. But there is hope! As the Women's March on Washington reaches its first anniversary, there's signs that a new embrace of electoral engagement may be underway. Housing advocates need to find ways to make common cause with the women (and men) who have been mobilized.

Besides joining a movement, can ordinary people affect economic inequality? RHINO says yes, but finding the balance between immediate needs and long term outcomes is required. Stopping an eviction is great, but making evictions rare, changes the balance of power between haves and have nots. RHINO has examples of linking social programs to combating inequality at http://home.rhinohio.com. RHINO will be visiting the Guardian's Inequality homepage on a regular basis can help to focus on real change.

posted January 21, 2018

Story series from RHINO

What do you want to do? 
Mary Clark responds to CityScape story on Slumlords in Cincinnati.
"As an agent with a background in rental housing, especially multifamilies, I have always wondered what we can do to bring standards to investment and how to mandate some kind of education for any entity or person planning on purchasing rental housing in Ohio. This is a complicated situation but the lack of education for prospective investors seems to be an important aspect which is overlooked." Read more here.

Need more news?

Affordable in Ohio is a five part series in November 2015 looks at affordability issues in Ohio. here

Affordable in Ohio here

Change in the Air here

Eviction in Ohio here

What's News (recent stories from all around)


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