Look in the Mirror

Look in the Mirror

July 2016
Jason Silva

To me, it’s actually pretty simple. People deserve a safe place to live and call home. Let’s do this.

When you hear the words affordable housing what comes to mind? Think about it for a second. What does it look like? Who lives there? Where is it located? Here’s what comes to mind for me.

A family with a single mother of 5 kids, 3 boys and 2 girls. Unfortunately, this family had financial difficulties and was evicted from their apartment. Thankfully, they had a network of family to take them in and had enough space to allow them to stay for a few years. Without this, this family would have been homeless. After waiting 3 years, they were granted an apartment in a public housing development. Believe it or not, it was a great place to raise a family – tons of kids and families, a basketball court, huge playing fields and, most importantly, a roof over the family’s collective head.

This apartment, along with support from friends and their extended family, allowed this family to get back on track. Eventually, they were able to move out of public housing and into a home which they owned. All of this made the dream of owning a home a reality, one that just 10 years before seemed impossible.

I’m going to now focus on the oldest of the kids, one of the 3 boys. He was a shy, quiet, short and skinny kid. He was a decent student and heavily influenced by not only his mom, but by his grandparents too, who helped raise all the kids in the family. He was addicted to basketball. He played every day. It occupied all of his free time. He learned a lot from basketball – hard work, team work, communication, relationship building. All of which he needed to learn.

He received support from an extended family of friends and also from a network of amazing people in the community. As he moved through school he met his high school sweetheart, who he ultimately married. Her support was critical to his success in high school and college.

Upon graduation, influenced by his experience growing up, he decided he wanted to go into public service. He interned in Washington DC, worked on political campaigns, and for an advocacy group, local and state government and a non-profit. He also decided to run for office locally, with the intent to give back to the community that gave him and his family so much. He’s now serving his 3rd term on the City Council.

Personally, he just celebrated his 12th wedding anniversary, owns a home and has 3 young boys he loves very much.

So, you’ve probably guessed by now that this story is my own. I share it because it tells a story of what a safe, affordable home can mean to a family and an individual. It is also a great example of the importance of a community – an extended network of support – that cares about those that need help.

People and families who need housing – affordable, workforce, low-income housing – aren’t scary or dangerous or faceless. Look in the mirror. They’re people like you and me. People, who if given a chance, can reach success and happiness. They’re our friends and neighbors. Their kids attend the same schools, are in the same classes and play in the same parks. They want the same things.

Remember too, affordable housing should be offered in everyone’s neighborhood. It should be built well, should look attractive and be of high-quality.

About Jason:

Jason Silva is currently serving his third term on the Beverly City Council. Silva has extensive experience as a public servant having worked for local and state governments, in the non-profit sector and for an advocacy organization. He has also worked at all levels in the political arena.  He is a graduate of Salem State University and is currently attending Suffolk University.