The Affordable-Housing Test
Connie Schultz gets it spot-on with “The Waitress Test” [July 14]. Class issues and identity politics (in this case, feminism) are inextricably intertwined, not pitted against each other, as too many commentators insist. One thing Schultz doesn’t mention is affordable housing. Whether it’s rental housing, public housing or homes owned, working- and middle-class people–especially single women with children–are finding it increasingly impossible to secure themselves domestically.
Beauty Turner, one of Chicago’s leading public-housing activists, speaks often of her experience as a woman who fled domestic violence and found affordable sanctuary in public housing. Now public housing is being torn down to open up land for developers; affordable rental housing is virtually impossible to find in gentrifying African-American and poor white neighborhoods; homeowners who purchased their homes fifteen, twenty or more years ago are being squeezed out by escalating property values and tax rates.
As Schultz reminds us, domestic violence and familial abandonment (usually by men) go hand in hand with economic and social desperation. The women and children left behind need safe, affordable places to live. Hillary Clinton did not address this issue; Barack Obama hasn’t either. It’s a crucial one, and he would benefit politically and morally if he did.
DAVID G. WHITEIS
Siding With Mitchell
I read and re-read Kai Wright’s “The Subprime Swindle” [July 14], and I can only say, “Boohoo.” Wright picked the wrong example, as George Mitchell is the poster child for those who should not be bailed out. He did not alter his spending after a significant loss of household income and signed loan papers without understanding them–again and again. Mitchell is a victim of… George Mitchell. When you make bad decisions, there is a price to be paid. Wright’s attempt to conflate race and age with victimhood was laughable given the facts.
I recommend a drastic and consumer-oriented solution: all subprime and prime mortgages, as well as all credit card debt with greater than 5 percent interest made between 1993 and 2008 be erased from the books. That’s right–I am advocating sinking the ships of the credit card and lending industry to save the rest of the fleet. If they don’t like it, too bad. It was their racism, sexism and greed that got us into this mess. It doesn’t take a financial expert to know that 29.99 percent interest and balloon payments will net defaults, not paid-off loans. The industry wrote those loans to fail. It should not be rewarded for deploying such weapons of mass destruction.