Last week in East Point, GA (a suburb of Atlanta), over 30,000 people showed up at a strip mall, hoping to acquire low-income housing vouchers. Over twenty people passed out in the August heat; dozens more were hospitalized. (Number of vouchers? 655.)
In June, Chicago opened up its low-income housing waiting list for the first time in over a decade. Although the Chicago Housing Authority only had spots on the waiting list for 40,000 people, over 125,000 applied on the first day alone.
(I could toss off some similar stories in Detroit, Roanoke VA, Birmingham AL, and other cities, but it would get depressing. Oh, and those waiting lists? In most large cities, an applicant can be on the list for upwards of ten years.)
Estimates vary, but there may be anywhere from 12-16 million vacant homes in the United States. So here we are: suffering simultaneously from a housing glut and a housing shortage.
I guess I'm naive, but maybe, just maybe, we could fix both problems at once.