Essay on Homeless by Economic Hardship, and the Solution of Civic Participation To Solve the Issue of Homelessness Caused by Unsustainable Development in Residential Neighborhoods by Large Corporations
Number of words: 2615
Media images of frozen bodies and desperate souls underscore the awful implications of homelessness in our societies, but do little to shed light on the causes and solutions to this important issue. In reality, homelessness is a critical issue that affects several communities, and is driven by a range of causes. In previous assignments, the cause of unsustainable development in residential neighborhoods was discussed as a major cause of homelessness by economic hardship. This paper will recap the issue of homelessness by economic hardship, as driven by the main cause of unsustainable development in residential neighborhoods. This paper will then propose the solution of civic participation as a solution to the homelessness driven by economic hardship and unsustainable development.
Review of the issue and cause
In the second assignment, the ways in which unsustainable development by residential neighborhoods cause homelessness by economic hardship were discussed. These included entry by high-wage sectors, resource commodity booms, technology headquarters, state development efforts and franchise expansions. The second assignment reviewed how there was a long history of large corporations entering neighborhoods and developing in unsustainable ways that displaced local residents, ranging from large franchises such as Walmart to more recent market entrants such as Amazon and Google. Throughout history, however, it has been clear that the entry and development by large corporations has been detrimental to the housing security of the residents in the neighborhoods affected, and has caused an increase in rates of homelessness by economic hardship.
Foremost, high-wage sector companies which enter and develop neighborhoods often bring with them highly paid workers and high-cost development projects which bid aggressively for land and housing, causing land and housing prices to rise in a way that increases homelessness by economic hardship.  Secondly, when there is a resource commodity boom, such as those in North Dakota and San Francisco, many workers flood in, which causes land rents to rise, and also leads to homelessness among migrant workers who come in to take advantage of the new opportunities but cannot afford housing.  Thirdly, technology companies which come in, backed by large quantities of venture capital, rent office space in a way that competes with residential space, causing residential home prices to rise and leading to homelessness by economic hardship.  Fourthly, governments and corporations sometimes partner to develop an area, with governments providing corporation subsidies, preferential treatments and strict legal enforcement in a way that welcomes companies at the expense of driving existing residents because of high land prices. Finally, franchises such as Walmart that enter communities causes land prices to rise while employing many citizens in low paying jobs, in a way that leaves communities highly vulnerable to homelessness by economic hardship when they leave in times of recession. 
Broadly speaking, these five ways are the key ways in which homelessness by economic hardship is driven by unsustainable expansion by large corporations. Clearly, these five ways cause homelessness by economic hardship mainly by bidding up land and rent prices, along with the overall price of expenses in a residential neighborhood, thereby pricing existing residents out of their own neighborhood. The next part of the essay will discuss how civic participation can serve as a way to solve homelessness by economic hardship and unsustainable development, by putting pressure on corporations and governments to act in the interests of their residents.
It is important to note, however, that homelessness is a very broad issue caused by a variety of factors, such as mental health, social stigmatization, discriminatory policy and economic hardship. The solution of civic participation is only one of many ways to address the issue of homelessness, and only targets the governments and corporations who pursue unsustainable development that leads to homelessness by economic hardship. While effective, civic participation is not a comprehensive solution to the problem of homelessness, which requires other solutions to come alongside civic participation in contributing to the resolution of the problem of homelessness.
The solution of civic participation as a way to solve homelessness by economic hardship and unsustainable development
Of the many solutions that exist to solve homelessness by economic hardship and unsustainable development, the most effective solution is that of civic participation. Empowering citizens to participate actively in their community to have their voice heard, protest against companies and governments, lobby their representatives, raise media awareness and choose their representatives in elections wisely is the best possible way of ensuring that unsustainable development does not cause homelessness by economic hardship.
Foremost, non-governmental organizations and citizens can use civic participation in the form of protests against franchises, multinational corporations and public-private partnerships. The recent defeat of the Amazon HQ2 in New York City, through the protests of its citizens, politicians and residents, is a clear example of how civic participation can ensure that corporations are not able to come into communities as they please and develop unsustainably at the expense of its residents’ homes.  Furthermore, citizen protests against unsustainable corporate development makes these corporations more aware of their impact and more conscious of limiting the damage they inflict, and also prevents non-transparent agreements between states and multinational corporations to unsustainably develop a neighborhood at the expense of its citizen interests. Protests are also a rapid and effective way of raising awareness, resources and support for communities at risk of gentrification, displacement and homelessness.
Furthermore, protests can take the form of actions that hurt the bottom lines of companies. National boycotts against corporations such as Walmart and Amazon hurt the profit of these companies, which makes the C-Suite leadership of these companies more likely to respond to citizen protests against the homelessness caused by their unsustainable development. These C-Suite executives will be more likely to limit their unsustainable development, or at the very least, develop in a way that takes the housing interests of its citizens into account. For example, they may agree to pay an additional tax to fund the subsidized public housing and relocation of citizens affected by its unsustainable development, or compromise by developing in non-residential areas. 
In addition, with protests against corporations, companies may sense that a target market of consumers is actually hostile toward their products. As a result, companies may cease their unsustainable expansion into those areas, thereby preventing the type of unsustainable development that leads to homelessness by economic hardship. However, such antagonistic forms of civic participation only work if they apply sufficient pressure on governments and corporations.
Next, civic participation can take the form of townhall meetings which allow all stakeholders to be engaged. Civic participation and the act of organizing together increases the power of vulnerable populations at risk, and gives them a seat at the table with the key decision makers in corporations and governments. Furthermore, civic participation allows the parties affected by homelessness to be a valued player in resolving the conflict, and compels corporations to contribute collaboratively to the issue of homelessness by economic hardship that their unsustainable development has resulted in.  For example, affected residents could lobby for subsidies for their relocation, or skills training for them to take up higher paying jobs and continue living in the same neighborhood.
Civic participation also empowers people to have a say in which responsible corporate players are allowed in their neighborhoods. One example of this may be found in the case of the redevelopment of the High Line, where the non-profit group Friends of the High Line helped to save a vital piece of New York heritage and redevelop it in a way that took the interests of the overall neighborhood into account.  The people of the West Chelsea community were able to engage the community’s energy, enthusiasm and resources to make sure that the government and corporations listened to them in carrying out their plans.  Similar strategies of collaborative civic participation could be used to ensure that corporations do not unsustainably develop in a way that makes many residents homeless. They are also distinct from more traditionally antagonistic approaches of civic participation, such as protests and boycotts, because they result in win-win outcomes for all their stakeholders. For this reason, they are also more likely to succeed, as governments and corporations have a positive interest to serve the needs of those whose housing security is threatened by unsustainable development.
It is also important to note that homeless people are often the ones who are most excluded from civic participation, and it is therefore important to get both people who are at imminent risk of homelessness and who are already homeless involved in resisting unsustainable development by corporations. Homeless people are often portrayed and stigmatized in the media and by politicians as individuals not worth helping, who are homeless by their own fault, when there are actually systemic forces (such as unsustainable development and public-private partnerships) which lead to homelessness by economic hardship. By getting homeless people involved in the political process, civic participation gives them a right to decide their own future, and a way to avoid the plight of homelessness.
Furthermore, civic participation to resist homelessness caused by economic hardship could take the form of electoral turnout and the selection of representatives. Non governmental organizations and grassroots communities could lobby their representatives for rent control and development-restriction laws, the latter of which would prevent low-value or pollutive industries from coming in to render the area uninhabitable. Civic participation in the form of citizens’ rights committees could also make sure that the homeless population, or populations at risk of homelessness, are registered and able to make their voice heard at county, state and federal elections. This would facilitate the appointment of representatives who are committed to tackling the issue of homelessness by economic hardship, and who would be able to use their influence on regulation and taxation to pressure corporations to be more conscious of their impact on residential communities.
One prime example of this is in the Heygate Estate in London. In the case of the Heygate Estate, the authors of a study noted how local civil society networks led self-organized activities to keep the estate accessible to its displaced residents, and used civic participation to mount a legal challenge to the Compulsory Purchase Order launched by the government led to effective resistance that exposed the hypocrisy and selfishness of the government’s policies.  Such civic participation eventually led to the selection of more responsible representatives who took the housing interests of local residents into account.
Finally, communities could use civic participation to combat unsustainable development by raising media awareness. For example, the residents of the Heygate Estate in London successfully used the local media coverage to reject the local government’s angle of ‘development for the people’, and to expose their plan as not being in the public interest. Likewise, in a study on the Puerto Rican community of the Lower East Side, Miranda J. Martinez showed how the Puerto Ricans used their annual Rites of Spring festival to create a colorful show of civic resistance against unsustainable development.  The procession featured poetry reading mixed with protests against the mayor’s anti-garden policies, and spiritual incantations mixed with political themes. 
In doing so, the Puerto Ricans were able to allegorically represent the Rites of Spring’s struggle between good and evil as emblematic of their large fight against gentrification, and their resistance as a community ‘in alliance with the forces of nature’ against the evil real estate developers who were destroying their community.  For example, the procession featured the goddess Gaia existing harmoniously in nature, only to be invaded and violated by black-suited developers flanked by ‘evil, vulture like spirits’, with children adorned in colorful winged costumes eventually succeeding in freeing Gaia.  The spectacle, while excessive and theatrical, caught the attention of local media and raised the profile of the local community’s attempts to show the value of their community and the importance of their resistance against gentrification, unsustainable development and homelessness. Through their actions, the Puerto Ricans of the Lower East Side were able to rally allies to their cause and show New Yorkers that their community and housing rights were worth fighting for. This is a clear form of civic participation being used as an effective solution to fight homelessness and unsustainable development, and push for greater housing rights.
Homelessness caused by economic hardship and unsustainable development is a serious issue, and one that merits effective solutions. This essay has discussed the importance of civic participation as a way of combating homelessness by economic hardship, through the use of citizen empowerment, representative lobbying, protests against companies and governments, media awareness and representative selection. It is clear that civic participation empowers the people most affected by unsustainable development to have a right to decide the future of their housing rights. Non governmental organizations and civic rights groups should more actively consider the role they have to play in galvanizing residents to participate more actively as citizens to solve the problem of homelessness by economic hardship.
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