Affordable Housing Measures Put Landlords in Danger
It's an odd sight to see from time to time; people taking to the streets to shout that their politics are right, and the other person's politics are wrong, and vice versa. This is something that has been as American as apple pie, if you will, since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and their respective fans shouted at each other over who should be the nation's second president. So, it's nothing new; though during times of pandemic, it does seem all the more pointless. Nobody understands this like those mom 'n pop landlords who are struggling right now to keep their properties and even feed themselves.
NBC news highlighted a story earlier today, June 3, 2021, about “mom 'n pop landlords” in places like New York. What is a mom 'n pop landlord? Essentially, they're just individuals, not companies or corporations, who own things like apartment buildings and small houses. They rent them out and rely on people's rent checks to make a living. These aren't the horrible, rich monsters that Ocasio-Cortez raves about. These aren't the billion-dollar babies of privilege that the Democratic Socialists of America want to pillory through the streets. These are the average working men and women who invested in their futures through property, and who always treat their tenants fair. These aren't rich slumlords.
Though as the news story highlighted, the pandemic has really hit them hard and it keeps hitting them. You really have to hear all of this to understand just how badly a segment of this population has been treated.
Take a city in New York, California or Illinois as an example. Many people couldn't afford to pay their rent during the Covid shut-downs. But, as we can all agree upon, it's wrong to evict people during a pandemic when it's not their fault they can't make their rent. So, they got rent forgiveness. And many got state and federal unemployment checks. But what did the landlords get?
Huge corporations got more bailouts. While nobody raged in the streets about it, like under previous presidencies, it happened. Huge corporations got billions of dollars. But mom 'n pop landlords got nothing. Worst of all, most couldn't even file for unemployment, as “I own an apartment building” isn't really a job. So, they got no state funds, no federal funds, and no relief.
While many of these landlords had tenants who were living rent-free and cashing unemployment checks every week to buy groceries and phones and clothing and stimulate the economy (though not pay their rent, of course), landlords were dipping into their savings and eating peanut butter and Ramen noodles, just trying to brave the storm.
No grants came in. No government funds came to the rescue. Tenants, who are considered poor victims, got their needs met. Landlords, who are considered rich corporate scum, apparently, did not – unless they were actually corporations, of course; then they got more than anyone.
Just when these landlords thought they made it through the storm, as the economy is opening back up and people are going back to work, these cities in question are now planning billions upon billions of dollars of affordable housing construction under the Biden presidency.
That sounds fantastic, no? We always need affordable housing. Though in plain English, “affordable” means Section-8, which means free housing. When they say “affordable housing,” what they mean is that these are government-headed projects whose total construction cost will not, in theory, run as much as private construction.
The Class That Time Forgot
Essentially, the small-time mom 'n pop landlords are forgotten. When brand new free housing goes up around the corner, the first in line to get a nice, shiny Section-8 spot are the people who live in these mom 'n pop apartments. They're who qualify. They were the poor men and women who were helped out by mom 'n pop landlords at a fairer rate to begin with, because they couldn't afford high rent.
So while these tenants get to go back to work and rebuild their finances, the landlords are left with nothing. Yet again; nothing.
America has had its fair share of inequality, and some of that still does persist. However, every politician on both sides of the aisle, every single organization, and every media outlet, only focus on inequality insofar as you can put a person's race in the title. White supremacy, black poverty, etc; these things get attention. The mom 'n pop landlords who are suffering while their tenants, supposedly the victims in the story, get a free ride? Well, it's not a sexy headline.
Ironically enough, the vast majority of mom 'n pop landlords in these cities are African Americans or Hispanics who worked hard their entire lives to invest in properties, in part to offer their fellow man affordable rates and to get properties out of the hands of corporations. And what has our government done to help them? They've rigged the entire housing market against them, not only paying their rent and offering free alternatives, but completely forgetting this class of person exists in the nation.
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