There is a housing market boom right now, where prices are skyrocketing. The house we bought in 2018 is now valued at an extra $30,000. I don’t know if we could’ve afforded the house then if at that price. Then, I decided to look at what one bedrooms were renting at in our area and saw them going for $600.00. I paid $450.00 about 5 years ago. Of course, I have to expect that prices will go up, but I worry still. I worry about twenty-something me that worked two part-time, minimum-wage jobs after she moved home after the 2008 recession. How could she have afforded rent for what she was earning? Would she have been able to save anything? She already didn’t have that much to begin with. And I worry about people like her who are currently in that situation.
Every day, I see new apartment buildings made of concrete and glass rise from the ground and I know they were not designed for those who are living near the poverty line. Instead, the poor have to rely on Section 8 housing, which some see as a hand-out. What the detractors don’t realize is that landlords must agree to the vouchers in the first place and many do not. Where does this leave a city that is growing and prospering, but leaving its poorest behind? I myself live very comfortably and now have a great job that I love, but still, I worry about that girl that I used to be. She wasn’t lazy. She didn’t take hand-outs. She worked her ass off and barely made it. It’s easy to generalize the plight of others when we don’t personally know them, but sometimes, what they genuinely need is help.
Housing is a crucial element of life and we have been reduced to the haves and the have-nots. The haves scorn the have-nots and tell them to get a job, get a degree, work harder, and to get off employment, while the have-nots cannot wait until they can tell those that come after them the same thing. We, as a society, are sorely broken and it’s much harder to fix than just policies and laws. The policies that are enacted may help those who need it, but it does not help those who continue to feel that those who are poor deserve it. What have we become when we don’t care about hungry children and homeless parents? There is a problem and it is us. It is our entitlement.
Entitlement is not the belief that we are owed housing, health care, and mental health, but rather, the issue is that we think we’re entitled to the wealth we’ve gained and earned, making us feel as we belong in a different caste. Entitlement is asking where our tax payer money is going to when it could be helping our next-door neighbor who just lost her job. It is telling others to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when we forgot the struggles we had to get where we are. It’s in the way we talk about those who need help and those who want to help them. We say they are bottom-feeders and leeches, giving them no sympathy. When we differentiate ourselves from them, we feel entitled to our own situation and dehumanize them in the process.
If we don’t care about each other, there will be no one left to care about who we are. What is our legacy going to be at the end? What will they say about us? They were selfish until the very end. The human race died out because they couldn’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The bootstraps were never the problem. The system is most likely to blame. However, it all comes down to the common denominator of caring for others that are not us. If we don’t realize that we’re all in this together, we’ll see ourselves splinter more and more and we’ll be the ones left behind.
Photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash