I come here today to praise the flophouse, the home of last resort for those on the brink of homelessness.
In the old days, say, the 1950s, there were hundreds of flophouses in major cities – San Francisco, New York, Boston.
Then came urban renewal. Its goals were laudatory, to improve the lives of the very poor, but one of its unexpected consequences is that it threw many people out on the streets.
Now, very few flophouses exist. I don’t know of any in Boston.
In New York City, a local organization called Common Ground Community has come up with plans to build new and improved “single-person lodging houses”.
Or, to put it another way, a clean, safe, place to live.
Rooms will go for $7 per night, and residents are allowed to stay for three weeks. After that, they will be required to accept certain services, including housing-placement counseling.
It’s a small step in the right direction.
Hopefully, it will become a model for housing in other cities.
More information: Making a Flophouse a Home, and a Decent One at That – By Janny Scott, The New York Times