The New American Homeless

There is housing insecurity in many parts of America, even in the richest cities. The Goodmans have a story to tell about the fear of losing their family home as reported by The New Republic.

It was August 2018 when Cokethia Goodman returned to her family home to find a letter in her mailbox. The letter was from her landlord. She felt unease and anxiety in the pit of her stomach as she carefully read each detail of the letter. The panic she was feeling was a familiar dread, she knew because she'd experienced it before. With six children to look after, two of whom had been adopted after they were abandoned at birth, the Goodman's lived in a derelict but, usable three bedroomed house in Peoplestown neighbour of Atlanta.

Goodman is 50 with a quiet, strong personality, courage that would stand the greatest test. She has spent years protecting her children from the dangers of this world. When Goodman saw the rental property it was an answer to prayer. It felt like God was listening and providing a solution to her problem. The area was fairly safe and the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy was within walking distance from the house. The academy was where her youngest son and daughter went to. With Goodman on a nine dollar per hour wage, the academy cost 950 dollars, barely affordable on top of food and other costs. As a full-time home help assistant, Goodman was the survivor of an abusive marriage that ended in 2015. She desperately wanted to provide for her family and give them a stable upbringing and finally, she thought she had found one.

Goodman had rented on a long-term basis, she knew the capriciousness of the housing market and acknowledges how quickly a property could slip away. She tried her hardest not to let this be the case by paying all her bills early. She worked long and arduous hours and was a woman who was strict on cleanliness. She was cautious about asking for any repairs to be done on the property in case they deemed her a difficult tenant. However, as she carefully read the landlord's harsh letter, she understood that her efforts had been for nothing. The landlord explained in the letter that when her tenancy expired in a month, it was not going to be renewed. There was no explanation given, nor one legally required.

As she looked up and down her street she saw shabby-looking houses being transformed into new dwellings. It was all about investment and money. A property that was bought for a low price then rented out whilst it was gaining value, until the time a lucrative profit could be made by selling it. The doctor who owns the house said she was selling it for financial reasons. The doctor gave Goodman 30 days to vacate the property and find somewhere else to live.

The search for finding a new property began with the hope of it being near her children's school. It felt to Goodman that she had not only been kicked out of her home but also her community. So she looked at other areas within the city but could find nothing. A big obstacle was that Atlanta has the highest numbers of eviction rate.

Unfortunately, the Goodman's story is one of many people in the USA and the numbers are increasing. It is a housing crisis and a new kind of home insecurity that has many renters worried. There is little security when renting a home and it could be sold with no explanation.


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