Earth Day - April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009 is April 22nd, 2009 this year. I hope you'll take a moment in your day to join in. If you've been observing Earth Day every day, thank you, keep up the great work. If you haven't or have been thinking of how to start, start small. Everything starts from something small. Perhaps you recycle that newspaper you read, or make sure to recycle your soda/water bottle by properly disposing of it. This is one cause that can benefit by even the smallest of gestures.
As this is a real estate realated blog I thought I'd pass along some great info I found on the Earth Day website here's a direct link to the webpage:
Healthy and Affordable Homes

The Problem

The United States faces a significant shortage of safe and affordable housing, a crisis that is most profound in low income communities and communities of color. Old and decaying housing—which makes up the supply of affordable housing in many of these communities—present significant health hazards to residents from sources such as lead paint and aging ventilation and water systems. Residents of these communities are also more likely to live near pollution sources such as industrial plants and toxic waste sites.

Who Is Affected?

Nowhere in the United States does a minimum wage job provide enough income for a household to afford to rent a two-bedroom home at the local fair market rate. This gap is growing: monthly housing costs grow between five and fifteen percent annually while the minimum wage has remained at $5.15 since 1997. In 2003, the national average wage needed to make the national average rent payment was $14.66—almost triple the minimum wage. As a result of this gap, many low income workers pay more money than they can afford for housing at the expense of other living costs such as medical care, childcare, and even food.

In a tight market, decent housing conditions become difficult to find as landlords charge as much as the market will bear and cut back on maintenance of older, less desirable units. One in eight rental households has either moderate or severe physical problems in their housing unit, and half of these have high cost burdens and/or are overcrowded as well.

What You Can Do

Learn how to make your home healthier—the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a guide called “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home” that gives suggestions for dealing with such problems as lead paint, poor drinking water quality, and mold and moisture.
Become an advocate for healthier housing—a good source of information on safe and affordable housing issues is the Alliance for Healthy Homes.

Find out where your elected officials stand on healthy and affordable housing issues. Attend town meetings and ask them tough questions or write letters and ask for their position on the issue. You can also look for information from national and state groups that track the environmental voting records of elected officials such as the League of Conservation Voters or your state conservation voter league.

Register to vote and vote for candidates who will work for safe and affordable housing in your community.

Other Resources

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) works for safe and healthy housing in communities across the country and their website has information on local housing advocacy groups and community issues.

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