“It’s been a long, a long time coming. But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.” The refrain from Kathy Manis Findlay’s Oct. 21 op-ed is significant. However, bringing about change will require the Christian community to awaken and stand for truth, righteousness and brotherly love. Send your prayers to heaven and use your vocal support here on earth so that families labeled as the working poor can be blessed.
As we fulfill our daily Christian walk, struggling working families across America constantly are denied the right to affordable home ownership. Federal laws are intended to protect them, but many who benefit from the status quo continue to deny these families the right to live where they wish.
Their race, creed or color and the content of their character don’t necessarily matter. What matters to the status quo is the financial status of those seeking home ownership and the kind of home they can afford. We read, see and hear a lot about change, fairness and equality. Unfortunately, equality for affordable housing is not within the grasp of many Americans. Friends now call the fight for fair and affordable home ownership a part of their Christian work.
Tool for building generational wealth
As mayor pro-tem of Ayden, N.C., my appeal is on behalf of all hard-working citizens who are unlawfully denied their right to the American dream of affordable homeownership. The playing field for America’s working poor will improve once towns and cities engage in affordable home ownership practices. Home ownership is a proven and common tool for building generational wealth. The nation’s affordable housing crisis is raging, and the only solution is to provide more new housing that is affordable.
Today’s manufactured homes definitely are not the manufactured housing of old. They defy the “trailer house” or “mobile home” stereotypes. These new homes are government-approved and manufactured according to strict government safeguards.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has published university-level research debunking common beliefs about manufactured homes harming the value of conventionally built homes next door. Cases from various urban settings demonstrated manufactured homes and conventional housing appreciate side by side.
Some manufactured homes are constructed on two levels, and some have carports and garages. You should see these wonderful homes, created from the best of today’s technology. These homes could be the wave of the future.
Punitive zoning laws cause undue harm
Many town and city governments override federal zoning laws because they do not want manufactured homes in their neighborhoods. Their ignorance and/or arrogance has escalated, and they unlawfully prohibit manufactured homes within town and city limits. These punitive zoning laws cause undue harm to many hard-working American families who are trying to provide nice homes for their children. Scripture teaches, “In as much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
For example, Ayden residents Tyrone and Jamie Taft purchased land through our city’s Plant-A-Home program. Unfortunately, an evidence-based argument can be made that city officials have used procedural moves to deflect them from placing a manufactured home on a vacant lot where their new home could easily be “planted.”
Families like the Tafts need the voices of God-fearing, law-abiding citizens to come to their rescue. We have identified the solution to the problem the Tafts and others face, and “Enhanced Pre-emption” federal law supports our solution. We only need the sincere prayers and vocal support of our Christian brothers and sisters to highlight this travesty. “Enhanced Pre-emption” can overcome the unjust barriers that habit, ignorance, prejudice, or any other special interest or excuse can offer.
Justice delayed …
So why do towns continue to oppose federal law when federally documented facts are known? What is the excuse? Justice delayed for the Tafts and others is justice denied. In Ayden and elsewhere, vacant lots sit in long-established neighborhoods where new conventional “site building” construction costs are prohibitive for people of modest means.
I thank God for the Plant-A-Home vision, because it easily solves many of America’s housing dilemmas. Therefore, I am only asking God’s people to treat the working poor as if they were in their shoes. When we stand with the Lord, the Lord stands with us.
Every child needs a decent home to enjoy a decent quality of life. Today’s manufactured housing provides this need. New homes in towns like Ayden will enhance their communities aesthetically and improve the overall spirit. They will increase the tax base, as well as create additional revenues from utilities, water and sewer. These revenues are desperately needed to advance the communities.
Sometimes an open mind is all it takes to make a situation better. Your voice can be someone else’s blessing. Please join us in becoming a forerunner for those seeking decent and affordable manufactured housing. Working together works.
Ivory L. Mewborn is a minister, the mayor pro-tem of Ayden, N.C., and vice chair of the Pitt County (N.C.) Human Relations Council.
If you want to help the working poor, first understand their humanity / News, Jeff Brumley
I can’t make sense of how we treat the working poor / Opinion, Ella Wall Prichard
The gift that is missing in our talk about affordable housing / Opinion, Greg Jarrell