116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Why does the law permit evicting the mammalian species Homo sapiens from shelter, but not mammals like dogs and cats?
Of course, I support laws protecting animals’ rights. I love and attempt communication with all creatures. (Fish and ants are the most obstinate.) Increasing penalties and enforcement for animal mistreatment are encouraging.
But an Aspen Institute analysis reveals 30 to 40 million American Homo sapiens are at risk of eviction.
This is made worse by COVID. We knew since January 2020 COVID elimination is possible (test, trace, quarantine, isolate). Some elected officials preferred the path that produced 600,000 deaths.
Vaccine creation was appropriately celebrated. But vaccine in bottles is much less effective than vaccine in arms.
Rather than vaccination, some of our “leaders” prefer our “freedom” to choose risk of death to ourselves and others. So, more die.
Meanwhile, 7,000 miles away in Wuhan, China, all 11 million residents are being tested. Since May 2020 Wuhan eliminated positive cases. Recently, when three symptomatic and five asymptomatic cases popped up, they resumed test, trace, isolate and quarantine.
Evictions in China? Yes, housing is a challenge for migrants. But during the 2020 lockdown Wuhan built shelters for about 5,000 people.
Like Americans, the Chinese have even more concern for animals. Bloomberg reports they are building 13-story condominiums for hogs to protect them from disease — with on-premises vets and individually prepared and served meals.
It’s unlikely that capitalist America will ever provide the housing for humans that China provides for hogs.
But can’t our Democrats and Republicans, the religious and agnostics alike, at least agree to provide every member of our species with shelter? It’s what we insist on for our fellow mammals. It’s what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says is a basic human right.
So how do we do that?
Start by skipping the 38 percent of Americans who own their homes free and clear. Concentrate on the 30 to 40 million who are housing insecure — starting with the homeless.
Iowa City’s Shelter House is building a second “housing first” facility for Homo sapiens. Housing first is a movement demonstrating why it’s more effective and cheaper to assist the homeless and unemployed with housing before addressing their other challenges. Duplicate it across America.
It’s how Finland is eliminating homelessness.
Let’s start saving life on Earth while searching for life on Mars. We spend more on military than the next 11 nations combined. It used to be 10. Cut it to five.
Explain to those devoid of compassion how much we’ll save by housing the homeless. Cost? We can’t afford not to.
Then address the housing insecure. Forbes has headlined, “Housing Shortage Worse Than Ever.”
We need the government to start creating homes, not Section 8 vouchers. Learn from the early public housing “projects” problems. Build homes tenants and communities welcome. Charge no more than 30 percent of tenants’ income.
Let’s treat our own species at least as well as we rightfully require for other animals, starting now.
Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City is former co-director of the Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy. He is the author of “Columns of Democracy.” Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org