May 2022 – Minister’s Message

I received a very special tattoo this morning. My five-year-old grandson and ten-year old grand-daughter were excited to share their tattoo offerings with me this morning. Together, we opened a yellow Easter egg shaped plastic container. Inside were paper tattoos, which when wet, were easily applied. After receiving my blue big-eyed goldfish tattoo, I began reading the Red Rock News and finishing my cup of coffee. I became totally engaged in an article entitled “Affordable Housing” are not bad words, written by Shannon Boone, the housing manager for the city of Sedona. The article brings to the surface questions and insights about affordable housing that maybe many of us have overlooked.

We all know and have heard the ongoing discussions around the issue of affordable housing and its impact on the Sedona community.  The article offers a concise definition of affordable housing; “affordable housing is housing that costs less than 30% of a household’s total income.”

I noticed that definition doesn’t include any reference to any group of people or peoples, no mention of profession, income levels, race, class or living conditions.

H’mmm, I wondered why these concepts and concerns come up in my mind when I think of affordable housing. Do these issues come up in your conversations around affordable housing? Why, as she asks, “do I sometimes hear affordable housing whispered like it’s a dirty word? Instead of a worthy goal for all? Instead of a worthy goal for all, affordable housing is associated with welfare and poverty?”

Welfare and poverty have been mislabeled, misconstrued, and sold, and dare I say colored, with the social construct of race and the debilitating state of poverty. I offer that this is so because our circle of understanding, our mode of meaning making, is centered on whiteness and its systemic supporting pillars. This is also the reason we at SUUF are committed to “Widening the Circle,” that is, to allow other perspectives and ways of being, other marginalized voices, to be centered. The truth is, affordable housing is an investment in human potential that benefits all who live, work, and support a community.

She goes on to mention that ”affordable housing is housing for everyone, and a goal for every healthy community.” Yes, I thought that makes sense to me. Communities that are successful, that provide opportunities for all based upon an agreed definition that is applied with equity is a successful community.

For instance, we all can appreciate the government subsidy of the deduction of mortgage interest. We accept this government subsidy as something we homeowners are entitled to.

Did you know that our government spends more providing this subsidy that it spends on public housing and rent subsidies combined? Why is one subsidy acceptable and another is not?

I smiled at my grandkids, and at my blue goldfish tattoo, hoping their world will be one based upon equity and free from one-way of seeing the world.