The Challenge

These years of pandemic have drawn us close to our homes. We’ve sheltered in place in them, had our kids go to school in them and worked in them. And, like a vacuum hose to a couch’s underbelly, the pandemic brought ugly realities to the light of day.

As kids took their midterm exams, wintry air seeped in. As retirees prepared dinner, June heat burst through. Instead of days at the pool, we spent days wading through waterlogged basements. Storms made more severe by the climate crisis exposed our unreliable electricity and our aging roofs and walls.

All the while, utility bills, rent and house prices rose and rose while our wages stagnated. Studies show full-time EMTs can’t afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Grocery store cashiers would have to work two full-time jobs to afford the same place. And for those of us looking to buy that American Dream home, one out of three houses on our blocks are impossible to afford for the average Michigander.

These realities are exacerbated for those with small incomes or in marginalized communities. We tend to live in homes that are older, draftier, weather-prone and likely to have lead or asbestos in them. We spend more of our paychecks than the rest just to keep a roof over our heads.

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