The focus on zoning, commerce, and profit-maximization does a disservice to the rich sense of community affordable housing can create.

by Kazmyn Ramos,

Too many of us have to depend on sheer good luck to make it — especially when it comes to putting a roof over our heads.

We grow up hearing that hard work alone will lift us above the hardships we’re born into. But many of us also watched as our parents worked two and three jobs, relied on extended family to watch us, and still struggled to afford stable housing. Far too many of us are living that same struggle ourselves.

Activists and homeless gather near tents housing the homeless at an encampment in Echo Lake Park as the city makes plans to evict all the parks encampments in Los Angeles, March 24, 2021.

It’s not that we aren’t resourceful. My grandmother, who barely scraped by with factory work and countless odd jobs, pulled together with neighbors who supported each other through a mutual aid network. Thanks to her resourcefulness, our community, and luck, we had someplace to call home. That gave my mother the chance to become the first one in our family to go to college. I followed in her footsteps to attend graduate school.

We made it work. But I’ve learned through generational poverty that the lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest obstacles to thriving. I learned even more through my work with Healthy Families, a national, research-backed program.

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