By Lee Blons, Executive Director
I’ve been in a retreat series with leaders at Wayzata Community Church as they equip themselves to create affordable housing through the Beacon collaborative. One of the main concepts that we discuss is the world as it is and the world as it should be if our values were realized.
This week the National Low Income Housing Coalition provided a stark report on the world as it is. A single mom has to work 86 hours each week earning minimum wage to afford the rent for a two bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities. Minnesota has the second highest cost of rental housing in the Midwest (Out of Reach 2015).
The disparity between incomes and rents is apparent in every corner of the state. But in communities like Wayzata and Plymouth, low-wage workers have a very difficult time finding quality housing with affordable rents. 77% of renters with incomes below $50,000 a year have to pay more than 30% of their income for their monthly rent (Homes For All). When rent takes too large a bite out of a paycheck, it means that there is not enough money for food, clothes, health care and transportation.
Can we imagine the world as it should be? I dream of the day where there is a safe and stable home with affordable rents for all families. I imagine communities and neighborhoods which embrace diversity—diversity of income, race, religion, age and family size.
I even dare to imagine that a “poor” neighborhood would be one where they are poor in generosity and spirit and lacking diversity. Last week at The Journey Home, Rabbi Sim shared a biblical story in which a woman was condemned to die because she shared her food with a stranger-- an example of the world as it is to help us embrace our own values of what the world should be.
Before we can lead the change to the world as it should be, I believe that we have to struggle with the real reasons of why the world is the way it is. We, in the broadest sense, have decided that some people get homes and some do not. As I often say, to create more affordable homes, we don’t need more architects and builders, we need more citizens who want to put their faith and values into action and dare to care for the stranger. We need to create the community will and resources to invest in more homes.
I feel blessed to work side-by-side with congregational leaders who feel called to create homes for those in need, build community for all.