Viewing Housing Within a Context

Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry were honored this week with the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Edward W. Brooke III Housing Leadership Award. Kerry was not in attendance, but Ellison spoke about existing societal constraints that necessitate a sustained response from housing advocates:

“Everybody wants to work, everyone wants to do well and everyone wants to pull their own weight, but the fact is there are clear burdens that hold people in poverty and you and I need to work hard to remove them.”

Ellison said the centerpiece in improving the quality of society “has got to be housing,” echoing a sentiment offered by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan earlier in the day who said that housing is a “path to opportunity and justice in this country.”

Ellison said:

“Can you imagine trying to make a cake without a bowl? Where are you going to put the eggs? The flour? The milk? You’ve got to have something to hold those things. Kids have to have somewhere they can relate to when they go home. A place where you can call home so you can give an address when you apply for a job.

Ellison went on to praise the 2009 Tenants in Foreclosure Act that stipulates 90 days’ notice before tenants have to leave their foreclosed building, though he framed his remarks in a larger context of stagnant wages, labor and workers’ rights, trade policies, and the “larger economic forces at work that make it so difficult for people to make it.”

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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