A disturbing phenomenon in Northern Virginia: sky-high rental prices plus short-term contract work equals homeless people.

These homeless aren’t schizophrenics, they aren’t drug addicts, and they aren’t single mothers on welfare. They’re working, middle-class Americans. Christopher L. Jenkins has the story in the Washington Post.

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5 responses to “The New Homeless”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    I’m not surprised. Many, many people live decent lives…one paycheck from financial disaster.

    It’s why I advocate the Commonwealth Trust Accounts – individual savings accounts fed by taxes already paid, extra savings, gifts and donations for health care, education and job insecurity.

    Note that the answer is government as the last of the safety nets. Other communities of common interest need to be funded – change tax rules and regulations – by the golden goose of capitalism to help those who hurt.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Per the article,

    “At the same time, the region’s high-powered economy has increased housing prices so much that many moderate income workers are not able to keep up. In Northern Virginia, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,286, according to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

    To afford that level of rent and utilities, without paying more than the federally recommended ratio of 30 percent of income on housing, a household must have an income of $51,440 a year. Messick, who received about $32,000 between his day job and odd jobs, was putting nearly 60 percent of his income into housing.”

    It’s one reason why the real estate market crashed in NOVA and other places….incomes can’t/don’t keep up w/ the cost of living in NOVA….and it will continue crashing until these fundamentals get back to normal.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    “In Northern Virginia, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,286”

    That is probably on the low side as well. Very sad story but I imagine it is true more often than not.
    I do agree the type of work that is commonplace in NOVA is also contract in nature and can be VERY lucrative and financially rewarding but it is also very unreliable in the long term if you are not constantly planning and saving. There are virtually no 30-40 year career jobs with the exception of a few federal government civil service careers. Even those people leave to get these very attractive contract jobs.

    The key with the new economy and jobs is planning and saving for the time when you know this time in between contract jobs is going to happen and most Americans have a very difficult time with the concept of saving.

    I think the real estate market is adjusting itself right now with nothing selling at current asking prices. This is now happening even west of Loudoun and Fairfax in the Valley were prices went up way too much, too fast and demand exceeded current need.
    Some of these homes have been empty for months and will remain so until either the market gets better or prices drop even more. Its all about supply and demand which is capitalism at work.

  4. You’re making a lot of assumptions in your comments. I just moved to Richmond from Northern VA. Yes, it is MUCH more expensive there but people can move to other places instead of being homeless. Also, I’d disagree with a previous commenter who said that the housing market has “crashed”. Houston in the eighties is an example of a crashed market. Entire subdivision for sale with no buyers in sight.

    Also, anyone that bought a house west of Loudon county and thought the increase in prices would continue was crazy. It’s much too far from DC. Plus, those houses are much too large. We lived in an 900 sq foot house near Old Town Alexandria (walking distance to 2 metro stops) and we paid less than friends who lived out near Dulles Airport. It’s all about what you choose!

    But, I will not disagree that the prices were out of control due to speculators. To me, that was one of the biggest issues in driving up the prices. And unfortunately, the people that will get the most hurt by them is not other speculators.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    I’m starting to sympathize with this. The contract I was working under just got canceled. This makes three times in seven years.

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