Ruth's Affordable Housing Testimony

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Jewish Community Action member Ruth Paradise has graciously agreed to share some of her thoughts and experiences surrounding affordable housing on our blog. To learn more about affordable housing, and what you can do to create more opportunities in your community, please join us at Adath Jeshurun May 17th at 7:00 PM for a community forum. You can register online at http://tinyurl.com/HennepinAffordableHousing and email any questions to JCA organizer Lyndel Owens at lyndel@jewishcommunityaction.org

For me, “affordable housing”, is not just a concept I believe in as a moral person concerned with the welfare of others. [Affordable housing] first impacted me personally when my brother, who is bi-polar, lost his Section 8 status. He was in a down period and wouldn’t communicate with us, his family. It is very difficult to get back on Section 8. Years of waiting, and now there is a lottery. We, his family, can’t afford to help him pay the cost of unsubsidized housing. Luckily, with some consultation with the Jewish Family Services, we found housing that has the Section 8 status and he was accepted as a tenant. If he were ever to be evicted, he would never again qualify for Section 8 housing.

Our neighbor has a son who served time in jail for possession of drugs. When he was released he couldn’t find housing [because] he is a felon. He isn’t dangerous, he isn’t loud, but even after several years out of jail he still has trouble putting his life together because of the difficulty finding housing and a good job.

We took our car for some body work, which was done by a very nice man from Guatemala (he did excellent work). My husband, who loves to speak Spanish, became friends with him. The man came to the U.S. in his early teens but his father died before getting citizenship for the family, and the process of gaining citizenship takes many years because of the backlog in courts. He called my husband and asked if he could help him find affordable housing for himself, his wife and two daughters. Most cities have ordinances against renting subsidized housing to [undocumented people], even those who pay taxes.

During my research as part of the JCA Affordable Housing Campaign I was shocked to read the licensing ordinances for landlords. There are many things that should and can be changed in relation to providing affordable housing without a negative impact on communities. The more I read and learn about the issues the more impassioned I become about the need for advocacy for affordable housing. It is a crucial part of helping people progress and make a better life for themselves and their families.

- Ruth Paradise, JCA Member

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