Filed Under:  Opinion

Thrown out of our homes and out of the GOP budget

23rd May 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

Growing up in Louisiana, I became accustomed to periodic heavy rains and sometimes even floods; but they were nothing approaching what we see happening now in certain areas of the country. When it rained a lot and the water spilled over into our yard, we called it “high water.”

Even though the high water caused us to see a few snakes and other unusual critters at times, the water came up to our porch, but never into our home. Of course, our homes were usually built high off the ground. Even though we heard elderly people mention the “Great Flood” that happened in 1927, we never felt that we were in danger of losing our home because of the high water level. We just had a few days of inconvenience waiting for the water to recede. We always believed it would come to a certain point and no higher.

What we are seeing in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and other states now is a lot more than just an inconvenience. We are seeing one tragedy after another. Whole communities are losing their homes to which many will never be able to return.

With all the technology we have now compared with what was available in 1927, the thought crosses my mind that if what we are hearing today, this could be worse than anything that ever happened. The Great Flood of 1927 has been called the greatest natural disaster ever to occur in the United States. Even though many other states are affected by the current floods, and many more are projected to be severely affected in the coming days, much of the worst of the 1927 flood took place in Mississippi. Like Louisiana and Florida, Mississippi has not fully recovered from previous weather-related challenges of the past few years or the Gulf oil spill. If, as is predicted, the current flood goes beyond all of that, I can only imagine the fear of anyone who is still living and whose memory takes them back to 1927.
With many of the cotton, rice, corn and other crops being wiped out, sure isn’t limited to the surrounding homes and neighborhoods. Fore­closures depress the housing market and make all of our homes worth less. Today’s housing prices are 31.8 percent lower than in the summer of 2006 — before the housing market imploded.

Preventing more foreclosures is critical to stabilizing our housing market and the economy. Yet politicians in Washington are determined to give tax breaks to the wealthy while programs that benefit the middle class and poor get pushed aside. Adding further insult to injury, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Wall Street bailout cost taxpayers $19 billion. By contrast, the housing counseling program costs a mere $88 million – less than one half of one percent of the Wall Street bailout. We know from the collapse of our economy that redistributing wealth to those at the very top creates a dangerous imbalance. By slashing government funding for housing counseling just to save what amounts to pennies in our federal budget, politicians stand to put our economy at risk again by creating ripe conditions for more foreclosures.

While Gloria was able to get resolution, so many more families are facing foreclosure or have already lost their homes.

Republicans seem determined to take us backwards to a country that throws its poor and middle class onto the streets while giving record bonuses to corporate CEOs. We know America can do better than that. Strong communities and vibrant neighborhoods are the glue that binds individuals to our broader collective. And, only when we rebuild communities will we truly be able to realize an economic recovery that works for all.

This article was originally published in the May 23, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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