Overwhelmingly, Americans agree all people deserve a decent and safe place to live. But the truth is many people continue to face housing instability and homelessness on a daily basis. Hard-working families and individuals who rent also struggle, as a renter earning the federal minimum wage would need to work 90 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental. Yet according to new research from ReThink: Why Housing Matters, an initiative aimed to change the stereotypes around public housing, more than half of Americans think if someone is employed in a steady, full-time job, they will surely be able to earn enough income to afford a decent and safe place to live. The numbers just don’t align.
This is just one of many misconceptions about those in need of supportive housing. Despite the fact that more people than ever before say they would support public housing in their own city or town, only a quarter of those polled believe people who reside in public housing are hard-working members of society. More than half of Americans would not want public housing in their community.
Public housing provides homes and services for approximately 2 million people in the country. For example, public housing agencies provide their residents access to affordable food, employment opportunities, skills training, health counseling and other life-changing services. Still, 80 percent of Americans believe there is not enough public housing available, and are calling on the government to step up, as they realize the government does not provide enough public housing options for those who can’t afford to pay for shelter. Just 17 percent — the fewest to date — believe the government already does enough to support public housing in their local city or town. While the need for supportive housing grows, the need for the government to step in is much greater.
ReThink: Why Housing Matters created a documentary titled “Our Journey Home.” The film, produced by Emmy-winning company Stillmotion and narrated by ReThink Ambassador Jewel, is meant to narrow the gap between misperceptions and the real stories of people living in public housing. “Our Journey Home” challenges perceptions about people in need of housing and examines the role we all play in supporting those in need of a safe and stable place to call home. The one-hour film follows three main characters as they strive to support their families, further their education and careers, give back to their communities and have a place to call home. The film is touring the United States to help further the conversation of public housing in local communities, and could be headed to your area soon.
It’s time to change the misperceptions surrounding public housing. We encourage you to watch and share “Our Journey Home” with your friends, family and professional network. You can watch “Our Journey Home” below or at www.ReThinkHousing.org and view the trailer and list of local screenings here and learn more about how to bring this film to a theater near you.
Courtney Rice is the Director of Communications at HAI Group.