Proposal – Homeless Housing: The Walk for Affordable Housing for Homeless


“The Walk for Affordable Housing for Homeless” Project:

This is the first rough draft. It will be added to, edited, and updated. Monitor the published “Page” listed at top of the site and separate postings to be listed on this “Page” for updates on this project:

Wednesday 18 November 2015

This is the beginning of my idea for a project proposal by me – James Charles Harwood of Norman Oklahoma – aka Internet pen name Jim Lantern of Lantern Timeglass Journal, a site

Some of you reading this have heard of and might remember from the 1970’s “The Walk for Mankind” project. The idea was for walkers to walk 20 miles and have sponsors paying x amount of dollars per mile to raise funds for various needy projects – each walker could choose a cause or charity to support – seek anyone to sponsor them for their walk – then collecting money pledged for each mile walked. Thousands of people participated in cities across the United States. By the way, I was age 16 in 1972 when I first heard of it being done in my home city Wichita Kansas where I was born 5 March 1956.

I am hereby proposing a new kind of “walk” for a more specific cause, not only for here in Norman Oklahoma but also other cities across the United States. The present working title I’ve created is “The Walk for Affordable Housing for Homeless” Project. It would involve increasing awareness and increasing money donated for all agencies, businesses, charities, churches, individuals, and various organizations helping homeless people to find and acquire affordable housing.

This project will focus on one specific cause of homelessness – now the Number One cause of homelessness here in the United States – LOSS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING – now accounting for at least 51% of homeless people including whole families with children. If it were a natural disaster then it would be comparable to people losing their homes to a hurricane or tornado or earthquake… but it’s not a natural disaster… it’s instead being caused by greed in a growing vulture culture of willful evil – that being my opinion based on direct personal experience.

I had an apartment I could afford on Social Security Disability benefits without aid from HUD (Section 8 Housing). I lived there for 7 years – longest stability in my life. Then it was sold and scheduled to be bulldozed. A new high-rise apartment building to be built there mainly for Oklahoma University students by a company that specializes in university housing.

The problem then, for me and 226 other tenants there, was to find another affordable place to live. Many of us ran into the new “minimum income” rule for tenants to have 3 x rent net monthly income – so for example $500 rent requires $1500 minimum net monthly income – rejecting my $851 Social Security Disability benefits. Also rejecting senior citizens whose only income is Social Security Retirement that falls below that line, as well as some low wage full time workers and part time workers. I encountered this problem during my May-August 2015 travels via Greyhound Bus to major cities – including Corpus Christi, Dallas, Wichita, Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno, and Los Angeles. It became a “suggestion” by law enforcement across the country pushing the new “Crime Free Lease Addendum” mainly on landlords of apartment complexes. The theory, actually supported by stats, is low income people are more likely to engage in crimes at the apartment complexes where they live. Even so, it is a small percentage, which wrongfully puts the blame on all low-income people as if all low income people are potential criminals. Good intentions by law enforcement to make such places safer, but with unintended consequences of shutting out the majority of low-income people who are good people with no criminal records (like me). Fact is, there is crime in low-rent apartment complexes, and in Public Housing and Section 8 Housing, mainly use of illegal drugs and abuse of prescription drugs with various related crimes – I’ve witnessed and been a victim of.

[Update from HUD via NPR 19 November 2015: This includes over 6000 U.S. military veterans who are homeless here in the United States, who have been given vouchers by HUD to get a place to live, but are being rejected – mainly for not enough income – by all landlords they have so far contacted.]

As result of my former home being sold and razed, I became out-on-the-street homeless. Eventually, as the weather became colder, I stayed at the Salvation Army shelter – and qualified for extended stay. Then the “Church In The Park” people and “Food and Shelter” [“for Friends”] helped me to find and acquire an apartment.

The “walk” need not be 20 miles like “The Walk for Mankind” was. Such a distance could be allowed, but not required, so each walker sets the distance goal and gets pledges per mile walked. I propose at least 4 miles – such as perhaps one mile in each direction to begin and end at the same location. I propose the “walk” begin and end at Andrews Park just north of the Norman Public Library. I propose the start and end involve the “Church In The Park” people for a coffee and donuts breakfast at the start and a hamburgers and hotdogs dinner at the end. Other churches, known to help homeless people, should also be involved.

I propose that the “walk” take place and be coordinated with the 40th annual Medieval Fair at Reaves Park – April 1, 2, and 3 of 2016 – with Reaves Park being the “halfway” point of the “walk” where the walkers can take a lunch break and enjoy the fair there. I propose the “Church In The Park” people and other churches (and charities) have booths there at the fair relating to history as well as for the “walk” I’m proposing, as well as booths at Andrews Park.

I propose money raised go to those who are helping homeless people – including the “Church In The Park” people, other churches, The Salvation Army, Food and Shelter (for Friends), and others.

I further propose that money raised be used to create a website, online database, on the Internet, for potential tenants and potential landlords. A homeless person need only complete one application for all participating landlords to be posted in the database. Case workers can help those who need help doing that. Likewise all participating landlords are listed. A landlord can make an offer to a homeless person (or family) for a place to live. Likewise a homeless person (or family) can more easily seek affordable housing provided by those landlords helping homeless people. This will greatly speed up the process and reduce the time a person (or family) is homeless in a shelter or out-on-the-street homeless.

To get national support and spread this project to other cities across the United States, I propose seeking the support of the producers of one of the most popular TV shows in history, which represents a different kind of disaster causing homelessness and a lot of people (and zombies) out walking around: The Walking Dead.

Jim Harwood

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