Begging Permission for Shelter
Stop requiring building permits for individual homes.
My grandmother told me about her first home as a newlywed. Her husband worked in the woods as a logger and they were living in a logging camp. The cabin was made out of green lumber so that when it dried out, there were large gaps in the walls that the wind blew through. Her shelves were made from dynamite boxes nailed to the walls. When she told me this, she was living in nice house with three bedrooms, two baths, a family room as well as a living room, a garage and office in a corner lot beside a creek. They were able to move from nothing to something with hard work and little in the way of regulations.
The West was won by people that built shanties until they were able to upgrade. In Butte, Montana and Bodie, California, you can see the types of shacks that miners built. They were thin walled, tiny, little houses using whatever materials they could lay their hands on. Poor people used to live in Shanty Towns where they rented or purchased property by the square foot and quickly built a roof over their heads before upgrading and usually, moving out to something larger when they could afford it.
There are homeless camps across the United States. From time to time, law enforcement moves in and ransacks them and tells their occupants to move on. These camps are usually built on land that isn't being used, but while some are built on abandoned lots or in parks, many are built on private land where the landowner is faced with the danger of fires, property damage, lawsuits, etc.
Why don't these people just life in the shelters that the government supplies for them? In reality, some are on the move and just looking for a place to camp for a few days, but those that are in there for the long haul usually want more independence. Homeless shelters require people to arrive before a certain hour and have rules about drugs and alcohol use. Usually these people are those that are mentally ill or addicts.
For those that have fallen on hard times, it seems they tend to avoid such camps and live in their cars. The problem with this is that parking in one place for too long is at the risk of tickets or even being towed, so they have to constantly move their car if it isn't in a secluded enough area. Constant movement means more expense in fuel.
But doing away with building permits isn't just about the homeless. There are many working people that can't afford to rent a home, let alone buy one, because the minimum value on a house is artificially propped up by the cost of building permits. This isn't just because of the cost of the permit, but because permits require the house to meet code, which means more expensive supplies and usually having to use a contractor, rather than being able to build it oneself.
If you go out on the reservation or counties that don't require houses to be built with a permit and meet code, or most developing countries, you will find that people can build themselves a shelter out of all sorts of materials. Sod, adobe, mud and wattle (wattle and daub), rammed earth, flattened cans, and even pallets and plastic are all used in construction where there aren't specific requirements for expensive materials. Sometimes you can even see the progression as the house started as a small mud hut, that had larger rooms added-on, using nicer materials until that original hut is now the chicken house or only used for storage.
Why would I suggest a move back, a loss of progress, an admission of defeat? Because these regulations, while intended to improve people's lives and safety, have actually hindered people's ability to move up in society. People that can't get a large loan for a house, could build a shelter and keep improving on it until it was a much better home. People that can get a loan, but have limited resources, could save the large sums paid to lenders in interest. Counties and cities that have a “homeless problem” and are spending vast sums of money to provide shelter and food, and using law enforcement to keep these people off of lawns and out from under bushes in people's yards could save that money and use it for things that actually help.
Social programs often weaken people's independence and self reliance. This can be devastating to their mental health, leading to depression, addiction, and even suicide. Social programs are not supported only from taxes, but also from inflation. This eats at the little amounts of savings that the elderly and poor have stashed under their mattresses. It causes basic resources like food and housing to continually increase in price. Government needs to stop playing the game of fixing one problem by creating two new ones. It is a game that can't be won and the losers in this game can't afford to lose.
Writes about politics from a Conservative Libertarian viewpoint. While pushing for a government that is Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal, he personally appreciates the Socially Conservative lifestyle.
Copyright R. A. Welkin