We are in the midst of a crisis.
I am referring to the housing crisis, and it seemingly is getting worse each day. What we are seeing happening to so many of our neighbors overlaps with the issues of poverty, food insecurity, and the current state of systems in place.
Poverty is a vicious cycle, and the systems currently in place often do not favor those struggling to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
Imagine having one — or more — jobs and still struggling to make ends meet. Then you are given notice you will have to vacate your residence.
You immediately begin your search, examining through all the available apps and online sites, newspapers, notice boards around your town and other neighboring towns, inquiring of friends, family members, coworkers, and just about everyone you can think of until you find a couple of listings of available apartments.
You begin to realize just how fierce the competition is to acquire a place to call home and the prices — whew! The prices of rentals are so exorbitant, you realize there are not too many places that are affordable, so you carry on and do what you must.
Now you’ve found a couple of places you think you can afford. You set up viewings and demonstrate your interest by beginning the application process. Here your financial reality sets in.
Rental applications cost money. You also typically need a credit score of 750 or higher, to be able to prove you have a job, submit a valid ID, copies of your last several bank statements, copies of your last several paystubs, your latest W-2, a verification letter from your job, and a referral from the current landlord.
Now, your credit is getting hit over and over and being lowered, pushing you out of the running for the more desired apartments. You are spending money you do not even have on applications, with fingers tightly crossed, as your credit card usage climbs higher and higher. You may get approved only to be told you will need to pay a security deposit, first-month rent, and a broker fee the equivalent of a month’s rent.
Just imagine that!
Let’s say the rent is $1800 for a 1-bedroom apartment with 90% utilities included. That could costing $5400 before you even live there.
How many people can afford $5400 in one go?
Now, you have a clearer picture of what some of our neighbors in Westchester experience. It is very obvious how this is a huge problem that has been developing for a while. It is contributing to the increasing homelessness and food insecurity that needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency.
However, this is not a recent issue and not just a result of the pandemic.
Where is the line drawn? When and how will this crisis end? How can one pull their bootstraps up when they can no longer afford boots?
Something’s got to give, and fast! Otherwise, it is just going to keep getting worse and eventually spiral into problems much larger than we will be able to manage.
Our purpose is to feed, empower, and unite our community. Our mission, to nourish our neighbors in the fight against hunger. But, the distribution of this food is only possible because of your support.
To continue to support Feeding Westchester, we encourage you to donate here. To find help, click here.