Editorial: What is “Decent Housing”?

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Having a place to live seems like something so normal now, that sometimes we skip over all that this implies. Having “decent housing” is something basic, which is included as part of the human rights that all persons have a right to enjoy. But exactly, what counts as decent housing?

The idea of decent housing alludes to a building that permits its inhabitants to live in a safe manner, comfortably, and in peace. The notion, for that reason, is tied to certain structural and environmental characteristics of the dwelling in question.

It’s important to bear in mind that the right to housing is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations highlights in various documents that said housing should be “decent and adequate”: that is, it must allow the individual living there to reach an acceptable standard of living.

A person can live in a tiny house with cardboard walls, a canvas roof, and a dirt floor, without sewer or electricity. Although the said tiny house is that person’s home, it cannot be defined as decent housing, given that the conditions of life that this type of house provides are precarious.

A decent house, in contrast, should provide cover from the climate (i.e., it should protect the inhabitant from heat, cold, precipitation, etc.), have a safe structure (without risk of collapse), include basic services (access to potable water, sewage drains, energy), and be
located in an area that facilitates communication and movement. In addition, decent housing must provide personal security to the inhabitant.

Having a home goes beyond having space where you can live. The subject of housing is directly related to one’s personal and social development, besides guaranteeing protection, wellbeing, independence, health, and safety of the inhabitant(s).

But in Boston, it seems that this right that all human beings have is not respected, because they are giving priority to construction, property management, and real estate companies so they can construct condominiums and extremely expensive luxury apartments that people who have lived in the city for years and have raised their families here, cannot afford, thereby causing a massive exodus of people and families in search of new opportunities in more distant places.

No matter how much Mayor Martin J. Walsh stresses that he has a plan to mitigate this situation, he does not reach his goals (either because he cannot or does not want to), because the industries in question have a ton of money and can buy politicians’ consciences to the detriment of those who elected them – the people – and who pay their salaries with their taxes.

There is no political will to counter this ambitious, inhumane, and lascivious fetus of capitalism because if there were, a responsible urban development that respects human rights would have been carried out years ago.

Sadly, we live in the 21st Century, where the technology is so advanced that it has blocked the brains of those who have the capability and creativity to do many things to benefit their own communities, but they don’t do them because they are so self-absorbed or, better said, drugged as if they were on opioids, cocaine, or whatever substance, which makes them remain indifferent or isolated from the world around them.

As the Honduran poet Ramon Ortega said, “I didn’t want to see what I saw through the crystal ball of experience: the world is a market where honors, wills, and consciences are bought…” My friends, it’s a lie: politicians are not our friends, they only approach us when they want our votes. I don’t deny that there is some that show by their actions what they don’t have to say with words. But sooner or later they will fall – just as all fall – into the claws of the lobbyists and they will then support the construction and real estate industries, while we will continue to suffer the consequences.

About El Heraldo Latino (1298 Articles)
A monthly bilingual newspaper serving East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Winthrop, and others.

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