Congressional candidate Kellie Rhodes wants to change the face of housing

Congressional candidate Kellie Rhodes visited Montrose to speak at the women's march for reproductive rights on Saturday, Oct. 2.

A lifelong career in human services has led Kellie Rhodes to a single juncture: running for Colorado’s Congressional District 3 seat.

Through 30 years in the child welfare youth treatment field, the Democratic hopeful studied connections stemming from a broken system that involve struggling families who can’t find access to affordable housing or livable wages. This can often lead to parents losing their children to the youth welfare system, restarting the entire cycle.

Rhodes said we have commodified being a family and thriving, who added that it puts parents at a disadvantage right from the get-go.

Building bridges that help all families access their needs without subsidization is a key component of Rhodes’ run for the District 3 seat U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, currently holds. Rhodes said her first priority is to return self-agency and autonomy to Coloradans in areas such as housing, parenting and wages.

With a country divided, Rhodes’ eye is on corporate greed, which she said is the root problem citizens should hone in on.

“I know that the story right now is that we are each other’s obstacle, but it’s that we have not taken our own self-agency for each other back from greedy corporations’ unchecked greed,” said Rhodes.

Feeling disempowered can lead people to look first at the government as two sides, while blaming the other side for the broken system but the candidate wants to remind citizens that they are the ones driving society.

She described constituents as a “can-do” crowd who makes everything happen: helping raise each other’s children, caring for each other’s loved ones in nursing homes and through end-of-life care, driving buses, putting up street signs, paving the roads, feeding one another, pulling each other out of burning cars and healing one another in hospitals.

“We’re the ones caring for each other.”

Rhodes recalled her years in youth corrections and child protection where she worked with parents and their children. Seeing young children “become wise beyond their years” brought many sobering moments. Children would enter the system wanting to go home, but Rhodes said the most heartbreaking moments were when children would steel themselves to the reality that they wouldn’t return home.

“Those types of experiences change a human being,” said Rhodes. “They make you understand the fight for survival at a more visceral level.”

The candidate’s platform includes fighting for a system that helps mothers and fathers in areas such as housing and wages so they don’t risk losing their children. Rhodes has watched parents over the years doing everything they can for their family and still struggle.

“They say to me that they aren’t smart enough, but that’s not it 一 the system is rigged and we’re cannibalizing our parents,” said Rhodes.

After serving children and parents for decades, Rhodes now wants to make a difference on a larger scale by running for office. To start, she wants to drastically change the face of home equity by establishing a self-agency program.

Rhodes proposes a nationwide self-agency housing program as an alternative to homebuying. This program would be geared toward individuals and families with "great sweat equity potential" but don't have the financial equity currently required to purchase a home.

This option would allow them to still borrow, but much less than they normally would in traditional home buying.

“If they only borrowed enough for land, materials and expert work like plumbing and electricity and when we paired them with a contractor, most of them could build their own home,” the candidate explained, adding that banks currently look at someone’s application and often dismisses work in physical labor fields, making money the primary equity that stays with the bank.

“If physical labor, which is what we all do, is the primary equity, then the equity stays with the homeowner, so if the average American family, with added expertise [builds their own home], it brings their mortgage down to about $800 a month, which is very doable. It’s what’s called ‘deeply affordable’ and is easier to pay off,” she said.

For renters, Rhodes proposes a national renter union based on self-agency, which would eliminate a subsidized housing system where renters need support for the rent two or three times their income.

The candidate noted that oftentimes taxpayers displace frustration at families instead of corporate landlords who live well above the average wage earner. Holding corporate greed accountable by creating a national renters union is one solution, according to Rhodes.

“Right now there are 43,701,738 units rented [nationally] and most of them by more than one occupant because we can’t afford to just rent it by ourselves,” Rhodes outlined. “So if each of those people renting pays $1 a month into a national renter’s union, that would provide $1,048,000,000 for attorneys fees and to kind of set up a system where there isn’t this asymmetry between landlords and renters.”

Rhodes added that her proposal would keep parents in their homes and empower them to focus more on their children rather than affording housing. This would also potentially lower the number of children entering the system, she said.

The candidate’s decades studies into the limbic system’s connection with neurological responses to hardship and trauma led her to create the five-tiered hierarchy of survival. 

Neural pathways are created in response to missing survival requirements such as food, safety, shelter and a survival partner, a person who can be trusted and counted on to be there in times of need. This partner is “well-resourced,” a survival requirement many individuals in the welfare or protective services systems don’t have.

Any missing links in the survival hierarchy leads to imbalance in both life and the body’s response system, said Rhodes. When this happens, a person is forced to adapt however they need in order to survive. Her goal is to help families and individuals find balance in these areas, but she also wants to put the focus back on each other.

“We love each other through this life whether corporate greed wants to admit it or not, and I know it because I watch it,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes is returning to Montrose within the next few weeks for a housing tour where she plans to listen to residents on their issues and ideas for housing.

Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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