“American Winter“, an indept look into inequality.

“American Winter“
This documentary follows the personal stories of families struggling to get by after the most recent economic crisis. This eye opening experience sheds light on the millions of families that have to struggle to get their most basic of needs to merely survive. After the Great Depression, safety nets were created to help citizens whom are in their time of need. This safety net has severely weakened by the massive budget cuts. This would in turn create the perfect storm where there are a greater amount of families in need but fewer resources available to these same families.
Filmmakers were able to monitor the emergency hotline and record calls from distressed families in the Portland. As the documentary unfolds, the stories begin to take shape and become more and more in-depth. The film allows the audience to take a front row seat to watch as families, very similar to their own, try to keep their head above water. These families gave a vivid realization as to what could happen to anyone at any moment. Having children go hungry, families having no heat for the winter time and families having to deal with health issues that overwhelm any budget because of rising health costs.
The eight families put a face to the rising inequality and humanized the experience. This allows the audience to familiarize themselves and draw a closer connection between the people displayed in the documentary and viewers, whom have little to no knowledge of the inequality and how this affects normal, everyday people.
As a documentary that looks to shed light on the rising inequality throughout America, this film succeeds in getting their message out. This film goes the extra mile to completely engross the viewer in these families’ hell that is their everyday life.

Radio script

Open: Que music (15 seconds)
Host: Welcome to the show. Today we have a big topic to discuss. Inequality and Poverty affects us all and in a documentary titled “American Winter” exposes this dark side that exist right here in Portland Oregon.
Host 2: According to the documentary American Winter 48.5 million Americans are living in poverty. In Portland Oregon that is 1 out of every 4 people.
Host 1: Thats a lot of people!
Host 2: Now in the United States have tried to curve the issue of poverty by adding help by calling 211 on any phone. People who work for 211 can assist a single person or even a entire family with just one call.
Host 1: Now this service is free but does it really help?
Shannon: I was out of work for 3 months, I have a $49,000 doctor bill and my insurance says I have to pay.
Host 2: Well is government funding really going to help? It can help everyone, even this poor woman.
Host 1: According to the U.S. government, government funding has kept $40 million Americans above the poverty line. Thats pretty impressive.
Host 2: Yes it is but this wont help poor Shannon pay her hospital bills.
Portland Official: It cost more money sitting on the sideline compared to investing money for people to participate.
Host 1: This a a strong statement. Simple to say, it cost less to help people get out of poverty and off the streets then to maintain and enable this cycle to continue.
Host 2: According to American Winter, America has the highest cost to deal with the homeless. Its more like a criminal set up when you think about it. A P.O. is a case worker, the fire department becomes the medical service provider and the ER is the doctor office. Very expensive cycle and high cost for the united states. I wonder who benefits from this that loves this set up and is making a lot of money
Host 2: Insurance companies maybe!
Nick Fish: The most endangered species in the United States is the middle class.
Host 2: We all know the American middle class is shrinking. I think the key to keeping this country up and running is increasing the Middle class.
Host 1: Yes, a strong middle class can grow revenue in this economy and we will start to see a decline in poverty which is on the rise today.
Host 2: Well there you have it. A damaging way of dealing with poverty in the United States. A big problem that we all have to help stop and contribute to the common good.
Host 1: To learn more about ways you can help and to watch this amazing documentary, go online and find Americas Winter and educate yourself on this issue.

Pedro R

Housing

Ashleyris Santos
COMM 345-70
Blog #6
11/3/14

Bristol Housing Authority, Cambridge Park (Davis Dr.) is where I grew up. There are two different kind of housing, Supportive and Affordable housing. Supportive housing is permanent affordable home, with support services ranging from counseling to life skills to transportation, depending on a resident’s individual needs. It’s also a proven solution to ending long-term homelessness. Affordable housing provides a solid foundation for a strong community. People who live in a home that is affordable have funds to purchase food, provide health care and satisfy other living needs. My family was in the affordable housing in Cambridge Park unit in Bristol, Ct.
Cambridge Park unit is multiple house complexes that has two apartment to each unit. My family lived in 111 and 97. This place is affordable and supportive housing because the resident’s there are of all types of people. People that live off the State, people that commit crimes, and people that have jobs that can only afford certain amount of things. Also most of the population are Hispanics, a few Caucasian, and African American. Davis Drive is very well known for the drug use, crime rates and for being on the news. When I wanted friends to come over an play with me, they couldn’t because their parents don’t like the neighborhood or atmosphere. The reputation of Davis Drive is really bad that people today still won’t believe that cops and housing management has changed the aspect.
In class spokesperson David Link, taught us about the different kind of housing and that he is trying really hard to keep supportive and affordable housing available. As said by Link, “fifty-one percent spend more of thirty percent of income on housing.” I believe him one hundred percent on that residents spend more of their income on rent. I have seen people do it and I agree with David Link to try to make more and save the affordable and supportive community.

The Importance Of Being Independent by Michael S.

It was 2500 square feet. All wood floors, a refinished kitchen with heat and electricity included. I had a room on the front corner of the house with a few of of the half-way house across the street where the recovering sex offenders would drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. My roommates threw parties every single night. Every morning I’d leave for the gym at 5:30am and wade through a sea of passed out girls and Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. The place was always trashed and always loud. It was a nightmare. It was my home. It was perfect.

I didn’t quite know what to expect living on my own. Originally I had planned to split a smaller apartment with my girlfriend of 4 years and my best friend of 20. We had looked at several places around Cheshire and other parts of Connecticut. Kate had fallen in love with one small place in Cheshire which I also favored. It had a small yard and a fireplace. Perfect for pizza and craft beer date nights which we both indulged in far too often. To my best friend, who’s idea of fun was Tinder and OkCupid dates every weekend (hopefully) ending in semi-consensual sex, this was not the independence he was searching for. We made the decision to rent the apartment in Middletown with two other roommates, none of whom would include my girlfriend. I suppose in my heart I knew we weren’t right for each other and this could give me the opportunity to see what else was out there. This also made breaking up much easier, 1 month after moving in.

If I could do it again, I would have much preferred to live alone. There are many things we take for granted in regards to privacy that must be surrendered when sharing a roof with 3 other guys. I partied more than I wanted to, skipped work due to a hangover less than probably needed but eventually came out a better person. Looking back I can say that I learned a lot about who I was and how I treat people. I wish I could say sorry to a lot of people for things I did that year, but had they not happened Id probably need to apologize to a lot more people later in life.

Public Housing

Housing is maybe the most hated and feared word, especially when it comes to a neighborhood near you. Is housing all that good? All that bad? Well we all know its attached stigma and and perceived prejudice but it is better then one might think, at least statistic wise.
I know personally most people who think of housing think of “ghetto”. Well, can we really blame the people who think that? For example look at the “Sands Projects” that have housing. They are filled with high crime and high dug abuse. Nelson Court was knocked down and it is inevitable that its fate might end up like of the Sands Project.
If we take a look at statistics of housing projects we find that our worst fears of public housing are irrational at best. It is a proven fact that Public hosing does more good then bad. First off, Public Housing does not increase the crime rate, pollutions, traffic or creates overcrowding. The good part of Public Housing is that it fills schools (not overcrowds), it strengthens a community and most importantly it helps not just families, but its helps Children receive better services and spreads out lower income families instead of bunching them all in one city.
So next time we here about Public Housing , and even more so if it comes to a neighborhood near us, let us not fear. People on Public Housing use this these resources as a tool for help. This does not make them criminals, monsters or anything of the sort. Public Housing is a friendly, helping part of the community in which we live and should respect.

Pedro R

Home

A house is not a home, but it’ll do. For some people housing has never been an issue and they’ve always had a warm and cozy house to call home. For others, the covers of a bridge or park bench are what they call home. “Connecticut has the largest percentage of wealth disparity in the country” said David Fink, Policy Director at Partnership for Strong Communities in Connecticut. “Rich people drive up the cost of everything.” We have some of the richest people in the country living in Connecticut, yet only ten percent of our cities have affordable housing.

As the temperatures begin to drop in Connecticut, I think about the work that the Partnership for Strong Communities is doing for the unhoused. The only time I’ve ever slept outside was in the summer to go camping in a tent, with a comfortable blow-up mattress and plenty of pillows and blankets. The thought of trying to stay warm outside tonight sends chills down my spine. I’m having a tough enough time inside my 800 square-foot condominium, as I try not to put the heat on to save some money. I’m also thinking about the richest one percent in the state and wondering if they’re waiting to turn on their heat too. Our middle class (me) is pinching pennies, our poor are hungry and unhoused and our rich are driving up the cost of goods and services.

The wealth disparity in the state is making it quite difficult for most people to find affordable housing. Only 10 percent of our cities have housing that is affordable. The amount of money needed to earn enough to afford a 2 bedroom apartment is $23.22 per hour. When 30% of our people are making only $20,183 per year, that’s half of what they need to get an apartment. So tonight, I’m going to put an extra pair of socks on, another blanket and be thankful I’m not outside. I’m also in a place that I don’t call a home, but it’ll do.

Barbara Gunterman

Chibs Affordable Housing

Chibs Onyebuchi
Housing between Wealth and income

This world is not equal, some live wealthy, some live in mansions, some live in single family homes, some live on the street. Even now in times the state sometimes does not want to help those in need, the poor in need. In Mount Laurel NJ, many peoples living environment their homes, were taken down and they were left to fend for themselves, luckily someone said no, that person was Ethel R Lawrence. She stood her ground and said that the state could not do this, and as a result the Mount Laurel Doctrine was created. In which stated that a percentage of all housing had to be affordable, the state was against this and politicians still want to get rid of it to this day. Politicians say that this is harming society, that its creating traffic, bonus density, that city is over dense and already developed, that its more children which in turn would breed more schools and more money that would need to be spent. But they are so quick to find excuses, not reasons to help out those in need of assistance, of those that need a place to sleep at night, a safe and stable sleeping environment. What is wrong with that? Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you turn them down, realize how hard it is to live like that, and keep in mind its not always a single person that is in need of somewhere to live, there are also children families. But this issue sent it into motion that you cannot force someone out of there home and not give them a place to live, this created more states to follow suit, Ct being one of them and creating CT law 8-30g which states at 10% of housing has to be affordable. This will help the needy and not create more people in poverty and homeless, this country needs to create more affordable housing.

Housing Crisis

Issues of housing the displaced has always been a subject of debate over the years. In the early 1970’s and late 1960’s, a huge turning point in the issue of housing erupted in New Jersey. Mount Laurel New Jersey saw a huge influx in migrant wealthy families. These families would drive up the prices of the homes in the area. The issue that arises from this migration stems from the families that lived there previous to the migration, namely the African Americans whom were there before the Civil Rights Movement. These African American Families were then unable to keep up with the rising prices of living in Mount Laurel. This is because Mount Laurel did not have any affordable housing at the time and thus many of the families whom lived there for generations were out of luck. Ruling as to whether or not these African American families had the right to say in their town went to the Supreme Court twice and both came to the conclusion to that the families needed affordable housing and the town would need to accommodate. Both times, Mount Laurel ignored the Supreme Court rulings. This caused the Fair Share Housing Act in 1985 that created a council on affordable housing. This is one of the more famous instances of affordable housing in America but throughout America, affordable housing is becoming more and more of an issue.
Affordable housing is plagued with many instances of negative stigmas and stereotypes. Individuals have all their assets tied to their homes and anything with the potential of threatening their home value scares many home owners, why take the chance? The fact is that these stereotypes have all been disproven by different studies conducted around the country. Affordable housing does not lower property value, school systems, flood the area with hoodlums, or increase the crime rate. Individuals who are looking for affordable housing are not gangsters or drug dealers, they are young college graduates or teachers that need a place to start. This is why more affordable housing should be made throughout the nation to help fuel the younger generation that will run the nation.

Affordable Housing vs. Social Engineering

According to David Fink, Partnership for Strong Communities’ policy director, roughly 30% of your income should go to rent. With decreasing salaries and increasing housing and rent rates, more people are spending around half of their income on rent, which sets them up for failure and a life lived paycheck to paycheck. Affordable housing is the clear answer to this prism of wealth and income disparity in regards to housing, although not everyone is on board with this solution.

Sandra King notes that “There’s a lot of verbage behind why skeptics want to deny affordable housing.” King’s observation is entirely plausible, as skeptics like Assemblyman Scott Rumana solely note issues revolving around “bonus density” and “environmental damage” as his defense against affordable housing. The system now has many convoluted rules to follow, and people in political power need to create a simple system to follow that will allow municipalities to live in and be funded. As Senator Ray Lesniak puts it, “you can’t have a cookie cutter one style fits all” for a system.

The biggest problem with wealth and income disparity in regards to housing is the growth and impact of social engineering. This system of keeping out low income families from communities greatly affects society and the political system. There has to be an overall housing project that allows for a reasonable mix of housing in communities because there is absolutely no evidence of any negative side effects or consequences from having affordable housing units in neighborhoods or communities. People’s biggest fears of having affordable housing in their communities are never materialized, as they are merely concoctions made up from the aftereffects of social engineering.

By: Maureen Smith