Poverty a problem in Moscow, not just big cities
Poverty stereotypes such as tent cities or homeless people sleeping under bridges don’t exist in Moscow and because it’s an invisible issue, it’s easy to discredit.
As college students, most of us don’t have an accurate definition of poverty. Sure, funds are tight at times, but we still manage to blow money on clothes or at the bars on weekends.
We also call the University of Idaho campus community our home, making it easy to become disconnected from the greater Moscow community and oblivious to issues such as poverty.
But there are parents with children in Moscow who have no place to sleep at night.
The proposal for an affordable housing project was turned down at a Feb. 19 City of Moscow Administrative Committee meeting. Instead, the group voted in favor of renovating the area for a community park.
Non-profit organizations in Moscow are attempting to help those who live in poverty. Sojourners Alliance is a local nonprofit working to provide affordable housing, education, counseling and community-integration opportunities to low-income families. The same day the affordable housing project was voted down, Sojourners Alliance Director Steve Bonnar was forced to turn away 15 households, eight of which were families, due to a lack of space. Twenty-five families total were turned away during the four-day workweek, Bonnar said.
Everybody loves parks, but there’s an obvious need for affordable housing in Moscow, which more people could benefit from. Clean and positive recreational spaces are important in a community, but the bottom line is affordable housing should be prioritized.
The standard for poverty isn’t as drastic as you think. Anybody who works in Moscow and earns less than $9.83 an hour is considered to be living in poverty, Bonnar said.
Although the housing proposal was turned down, the fact it was being considered proves there is a need. We must recognize poverty as an issue in Moscow.
Just because the initial plan didn’t succeed doesn’t mean we should drop the idea altogether. Whether it’s through grants or different programs, we need to find ways to make affordable housing a reality.