We find ourselves on the cutting edge of an exciting possibility n the opportunity to improve living conditions of struggling Ashe families.
The answers are unknown at this point. That is the case when you stand on the cutting edge looking at needs.
We got a glimmer of the possibilities last week when a group came together to discuss the needs, mostly. More talk of the solutions will come later.
The group included county commissioners, Habitat for Humanity, people who have studied affordable housing problems and people who help us understand life skills.
There were also people at the gathering who are simply interested in the issue and helping others. That is an important group to have, also, for such an effort that is coming together.
As for needs, we learned that affordable housing in Ashe County means paying $300 a month for a rented mobile home. We have seen some of these spaces, and while they may not look like much and may not be as safe as some of our homes, they do provide shelter from the elements.
Sadly to say, if you are a single mom, you may be trying to support a family on $1,000 per month take-home pay if you are able to find work. In light of that, even $300 per month rent is a lot of money.
Now think about paying for fuel oil for heat on top of that. If heating a home last winter cost $500, it may cost $1,000 this winter. The cost of driving to work and the grocery store is twice what it was last winter.
Paychecks in Ashe County have not gone up that much. Children in Ashe County will be sleeping in their clothes and shoes to stay warm inside that $300 per month mobile home this winter. Parents will be deciding between gasoline for the car to get to work and food and medicine.
Times are tough in one of the most beautiful places in the greatest nation on earth.
We are, however, standing on a cutting edge, beginning to look at solutions.They will not likely be New Deal or New Frontier solutions of the Roosevelt and Kennedy presidential administrations.
The solutions in Ashe County will likely involve our personal commitments, commercial interest, the energy of area churches and sweat equity. The solutions will likely come in small steps like those taken by participants in Habitat for Humanity. Ashe County is organizing a branch of that faith-based entity to help renters of the $300 per month mobile homes become homeowners for only a little more money.
Habitat for Humanity, as good as it is, could only be expected to help a few families per year. We would hope there could be more.
Single moms and cold children shouldn’t have to figure it out on their own. Those of us who do better than $1,000 per month income should be ashamed to stand by and do nothing while children in Ashe County sleep in their clothes to keep from freezing and starving.
But we don’t have to. The momentum is building to find solutions. We just have to join the effort. More meetings like last week’s affordable housing taskforce will take place in the future. Stay tuned to learn more and do more.