Almost every week we read about homelessness and affordable housing, while local government approves proposals for eight affordable units. But maybe good citizens can also chip away at the challenges.
Some people moving into Asheville and many longtime residents have money to invest. And it is fairly easy to create affordable housing from existing structures. An owner’s suite can become a studio apartment by replacing a window with a door, thus creating a private entrance. Add a small fridge and microwave, and people who don’t cook are happy. Plus, by not installing a stove, the room can be easily converted back to a bedroom. An unused garage can also become a studio apartment, but adding plumbing increases cost.
The term homeless conjures up panhandlers on the street, but they are just one subpopulation of the homeless. As an older woman, I purchased a house locally with a walkout basement. I created a studio apartment and housed the homeless. I didn’t know much in the beginning but learned through the process.
I found a builder wanting a fair profit, not wealth, and working with local agencies, I selected emotionally and financially responsible candidates who just needed a small place. I charged below market value to encourage saving for their next step. The demographics are revealing — two men, five women, four college degrees and four victims of domestic abuse. These data indicate that anyone can fall victim to inflation, a mistake or a life change and become homeless.
Research shows that helping others lowers blood pressure, reduces depression and provides purpose. If you can, consider creating a studio apartment. If you can only spare $10 dollars a month, donate to Habitat, Homeward Bound, Helpmate or another charity. One person can make a difference.
— R.L. Todd