The City of Boulder ran a process called Housing Boulder in which fifty residents on five different working groups discussed directions they believe Boulder should go in regards to housing. I support the result of this process, which favored allowing cooperative homes and accessory dwelling units, among other housing tools. There was a process; let’s value the time and efforts of the residents who participated in the city’s working group.
I believe that people should be allowed to live in manners related to how they want to live. This means that if a group of friends want to live together, they should be allowed to regardless of their age or desire to work together. I don’t think it’s all right to be disrespectful, so if this group of people were breaking other laws, such as noise or trash ordinances, their neighbors or anyone offended at such disturbances have rights to request that those ordinances be enforced. Here is a song, given in the public hearing section of a city council meeting, asserting as much:
Boulder’s current housing policies, which limit “unrelated” folks to three per unit in low-density areas or four per unit in high-density zones, are not only economically discriminatory, they are also discriminatory to queer and nonmonogamous communities.
I personally would like to buy a home with friends in which to raise children collectively. Despite my significantly-lower-than-livable wages, I can afford to do this. Cooperative living, however, is prohibited under Boulder law in the manner in which I would like to do it. So because I hold values that are different to the societal “norm”, I am punished. The way I choose to live affects me and those I live with. It does not affect anyone else, so no one else should have a say.
NIMBYism (Not-In-My-BackYard-ism), or the “characterization of opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them, often with the connotation that such residents believe that the developments are needed in society but should be further away” (Wikipedia), is rampant in my experience in Boulder. In response to NIMBYism, if people want to live in a gated community, they should build a gate.
NIMBYism is the exertion of power, in the form of wealth or length of time in a location, to control others. This is not socially just, and it must dissolve in order for housing to be just.
Listen to my response at a recent candidate forum about Boulder’s camping ban, which the Department of Justice has recently decried as being in violation of the 8th Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment clause
First off, I need to repeat what Leslie Darling said at a recent gathering of seniors who want to live communally: if there are one thousand people who are homeless, there are one thousand stories as to why homelessness occurs.
Referring to “the homeless”, as many folks often do, dehumanizes people and makes “solutions” sound simple. People who are currently unhoused are real people who have real stories, and they are not all sleeping outside, in cars, or on friend’s couches by choice. Here are some barriers to stable housing: being in a marginalized group of society, whether that’s being a single parent, not having white skin, having diverse physical abilities, being a war veteran, or holding another identity that so often ties into socio-economic status.
Boulder should adopt the Homeless Bill of Rights to provide people who have been discriminated against in countless ways some legal protection when trying to survive. The Homeless Bill of Rights is simple; it allows people who do not live in houses to sleep and eat and provide for themselves and family without fear of being fined or taken to jail. It forces laws to be direct; rather than lump a large population into one personality type so it’s easier to remove threatening behavior preemptively, only threatening behavior can be enforced, so people acting in calm, friendly manners cannot be punished for the actions of someone else who happens to hold a similar socio-economic status. The recent Department of Justice statement supports this opinion and refers to arresting unhoused folks for daily living activities as unconstitutional.
Under housing policy, I also believe in Housing First, the concept that the city should be funding housing for people who do not have housing. Boulder County’s plan to end homelessness includes housing first. Most support for this kind of program comes from the economic principles at play; housing folks who are unhoused comes back to the economy, sometimes saving over twice as much money as was spent. I support societal loans because society created most of the problems that lead people into homelessness, so it’s up to society to solve them.
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