What it really means
The Des Moines Register recently published an article on “Doubling Up.” The story focused on stories of recent college graduates and their families who were “involuntarily reacquainted” by the graduate’s inability to find gainful employment in the post recession economy. There is no doubt that the economic turmoil of the last several years has altered expectations of graduates and their parents. The safety net created by the family structure has benefited many children over the years. That is not always the case.
For those of us working in the area of affordable housing, “Doubling Up” has a different meaning. Loss of jobs and reduction of hours have left many individuals and families unable to retain their housing. Those at the lowest levels of employment (making 30% of Median Family Income) are the hardest hit. When you are a family of four earning $22,350.00, a week’s furlough or a 10% cut in hours means the rent or mortgage cannot get paid.
These folks usually do not have a parent’s finished basement available as a safety net. They are often left with already overcrowded accommodations of financially struggling relatives or friends. While a parent is not likely to kick a child to the curb, low income families find their welcome often worn out very quickly.
Doubling Up is about loss of control -loss of control of your own shelter. It is the worry of not knowing whether this is the last week or day your family will be welcome at your great-aunt’s house, a neighbor or friend’s place and if so, where you will go next. The Polk County Housing Trust Fund understands that safe, stable affordable housing is permanent housing. It is housing that individuals control, that they are able to afford and retain. Making sure our community has enough of that housing is what we do at the PCHTF.