There has been a lot of conversation recently about providing more affordable housing in Rockport, but there is a counterpoint to that sentiment.
Back when kids (with no diplomas and no skills) had summer jobs, they learned what a hard days work was like and learned some basic economics. While spreading fresh cow manure in gardens and pruning miles of the blood letting bougainvillea hedges at $1.10 per hour, I learned that low skill pays low wages.
Jobs like these seem tailored to convince us to stay in school, become a craftsman, get some training or out-perform the others enough to get off the bottom rung and onto the life you desire.
Some people are advocating for home ownership for minimum wage earners. Jobs like working the drive-thru window were never meant to be full time jobs. They were to be part-time jobs while a kid gets his education or to be a second job to get that car you just had to have or pay that unexpected medical bill. They were never meant to be careers that would pay for a house. That people have gotten stuck in those low-income jobs is partially attributable to handout programs that supplement those incomes and allow people to enjoy the prizes of real effort, like home ownership, without exerting real effort. Home ownership is a privilege not a birthright.
I have done some research. We have a relative that has moved to Rockport. She is very bright and will doubtless do quite well in life. But for now, until she discovers her calling, she works low paying jobs in Rockport, first a server in a restaurant, and now a receptionist in a medical practice and on weekends, a barista, and some pet sitting. None of these jobs pay more than $10 per hour. She is single and self-supporting with no roommate. And yet she just qualified for a very nice freshly built 600-square-foot apartment right here in Rockport. She reports there is no shortage of housing for her and for her friends. She also has no expectation that she could own a decent home in a nice neighborhood until she makes herself more valuable in the labor marketplace.
So I know for a fact there is affordable housing for low-income people. There is no need to create more of it.
When we were in Sedona, AZ we asked the tour guide where she lived in town. When she stopped laughing she simply said, “The people who work in town don’t live in town.” And yet the hundreds of shops and galleries and restaurants and tourist attractions in Sedona flourish.
It may be a greater gift to people to have to earn, really earn, that home the old fashion way. Besides, every housing project I have seen that was subsidized reflected emphatically that when things are given to people they don’t appreciate and don’t take care of them.