Unsafe Housing Ruled an Unseen Crisis
- Author: Jessica Williams
- Posted: 2023-05-01
In the past few months, America has witnessed large-scale apartment complex fires break out in New York City, Memphis, TN, Maryland, and other parts of the country. What do they all have in common? They're typically low income housing tenements, where people live either for a drastically reduced rate or rent free on Section 8 vouchers. Aside from the obvious unspeakable tragedy of people actually perishing in these fires, there's also the fact that the optics are bad. Government housing seems to be entirely unsafe and completely outdated. Though instead of actually working to fix these things, the current government is on the brink of war with Russia, a nuclear superpower, and they're funneling in migration through the country's southern border. In terms of the government sending out teams to fix public housing, no one has seen or heard anything to date. Yet the fires keep happening.
Many in the mainstream news media have taken to calling this the "unseen housing crisis" that's currently plaguing America. And while it's a hazard for anyone who lives in this shoddy government housing, there's also the fact that corporate media is taking a very particular angle on these stories, attributing the spate of fires to systemic racism.
Lumping the Categories Together
The issue of Americans not having enough adequate housing, hundreds of thousands of homeless, and people living in unsafe conditions is something that you might think would be a unifying factor. However, it does not seem to be in the interest of the corporate mass media to speak ill of the housing market in general. Instead, they have decided to highlight only the issues with African American housing, as if to say that everyone else, the other 87% of Americans, live in housing that's just fine. That is not even close to the case, of course, but honesty brings in far fewer viewing numbers than sensationalism. So, what you end up with is a corporate media conflating two groups of African Americans to sound the alarm. They are lumping in actual homeowners with Section 8 tenants of public housing.
The point here is that the calls for housing reform are basically suggesting that it's the American government's job to ensure that all African American housing is safe. Though if it's a privately owned home, what is the government supposed to do? Make regular visits to a person's house and force them to install smoke detectors and fix their wiring? You can see their point when speaking about public housing that the government technically owns. Yes, in that instance, it should be the government's responsibility to ensure that these apartments are not death-trap fire hazards. The issue, of course, is in conflating and combining these categories, in order to create a racial issue where, statistically speaking, one does not exist.
The scary truth is that all government housing is exponentially more unsafe than private housing. This goes for White, Asian, Latino, Native, and any other demographic that lives there. Turning this into an African American issue for viewership and clicks is pushing the idea that the government should also be responsible for fires in residential properties that are privately owned. Rhetoric like this will never help solve something that is an actual issue.
No Government Solution
At some point in America, people may have to understand that there is no government solution to these problems, at least according to some critics. An anonymous source wrote on a CNN article, "Expecting the government to entirely revamp your existing housing framework, rather than just installing smoke detectors and being safer in your homes, is always going to leave you living under the threat of a fire." Many people would say that people should demand the government fix these issues, though the bigger point some are trying to make in society is that these fires aren't happening due to some boiler in a basement. They're starting inside the apartments of residents, often due to negligence; and rather than expecting more responsibility from tenants, mainstream society has decided that all of these tenants are victims.
Though, realistically and practically, both things can be--and actually are--true at the same time. The government should be in there fixing things up to make housing safer for everyone, while tenants of these apartments also need to do more to prevent fires from happening. This is far from a one-way street, despite what a news network says to get ratings.