Rooming Houses: Affordable Housing For The Disadvantaged

Commentary by Alexander Hamilton

 Editor’s Note:  Mr Hamilton owns property locally and rents out rooms to homeless people.

      Times have changed and it seems as if the economy has not made it any better for people who are economically disadvantaged.  While there are people who can’t seem to find affordable housing in the traditional view of things.  There are alternatives that can help a person get reacquainted into housing that is affordable for their current situation.

      As property manager for over 15 years plus, I have encountered people who would be considered economically disadvantaged by general society.  However, in my eyes they are people.  These people that come to me for help, trust me due to my track record as a people person, someone that they can talk to.  In addition to my helping them, I look at their situation from a different prospective.  I want them to get the most desirable outcome for their situation.  I am by no means a counselor, but I have become a father to the majority of people who choose to take my advice and understand my perspective.

      My thinking is that everyone has to start from the bottom and work their way to where they ultimately want to be.  When a person receives disability or works a temp or day labor job needs, they need a roof over their head.  They are often looking at housing that will take up more than 40% of their check every month.  I know that the reason they do this is because they want some place nice that they can live so that they can hang their hat or coat and call it their own. 

      My suggestion is renting a room at a rooming house.  There are not many left, but they can be a step up.  It is where a person can feel that thy have a place to call their own.   I know a lot of people have a bad perception about rooming houses due to a few bad apple or experiences.  All I can say to those people is keep an open mind and realize that one bad apple does not define the whole barrel.

      Let me say this, however, all rooming houses do not provide the same things.   A basic rooming house would include a bed, television and possibly a chair.  While a rooming house that provides extras may include the basics, plus some additional furniture and some household items.  However, when looking at renting a room, you have to weigh more factors than the price and the physical things in the room.  The fact is that some rooming houses offer flexibility in terms of how you pay.  There may be a plan available where you can pay by the day or week.  If you get paid monthly, you can of course pay by the month.

      While a rooming house is not a full apartment, it is a warm bed to sleep at night, shelter from inclement weather and a safe place to be besides the street.  I am not a counselor as I stated before.  I am simple someone who cares about the people who cross my path.  My goal is to not only help people, but also bridge the gap between property owners and the people they serve.  One cannot do without the other.  A lot of owners do not understand that a part of doing business is being a caring human being.  I try to understand both sides of the same.  I understand the property owners need to make money.  However, I also understand that no money can be made without a little care for the people.

      Over the years, I have helped many to see that their current situation does not have to define them.  Homelessness is a temporary status.  I believe that everyone can get out of being homeless.  They can achieve this simply by a shift in thinking and some maturity.  I also know that sometimes being hurt does not allow any one to think in the most logical terms.  Life has a way of making us all jaded in certain areas.  This can be devastating for an individual who has limited or no family to rely on for emotional support and comfort.  A person should be allowed to think for him or herself, but also has the ability to listen to suggestions that can improve their quality of life.  If a person is searching for a way out of a dead end situation, I want to show them that there are choices and those choices will affect their life.  My goal is to help the disadvantaged realize their advantages.  I want them to see those advantages through different glasses so they can help enjoy life a little more.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012