Pay Higher Rent and Get Out of Poverty Quicker

New Orleans      At first this idea may sound really, really stupid.  Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) responsible for financing the public housing and housing subsidy vouchers across the country has announced a plan in his words, “to give poor people a way out of poverty.”  His plan to achieve this is to raise the rent required to live in public housing.  His idea is that being forced to pay more rent will somehow force poor families to get out of poverty by making them work harder.  Somehow in his logic, paying more rent, thereby making a poor family poorer, will somehow make them richer.  So, if at first this idea sounds really, really stupid, once you really think about it for even a minute, it is difficult not to conclude that in fact this idea is in fact, really, really, really stupid.

A report from the DC-based research outfit, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities done for the Associated Press found that in the 100 largest US metropolitan areas, lower income tenants would have to pony up an average of about 20% more for their rent.  This huge bite into lower income and working families’ income would impact four million people and raise revenue for HUD by $3.2 billion once fully implemented.  The Center found that 75% of the increase would be born by working families, the elderly, and the disabled.  I hope your following me closely.  Working families would pay more which would be an obstacle to their security and exiting poverty.  The elderly would pay more with most of them on fixed income facing an increase disproportionate to any inflation adjustment.  You get the picture.  What’s more the Carson Get-Out-of-Poverty-Through-Higher-Rent plan would also eliminate deductions from income calculations that have prevailed in situations where there were high medical bills or child care costs.

Looking at the Center’s state by state chart of families impacted there’s only one thing that one can say about this without any fear of correction:  this is an equal opportunity program since everyone in all states gets screwed.  Let’s just pull a couple out of the pile.  In Arkansas 45,000 families will be affected that include a total of over 89,000 individuals, including children obviously who account for 39,000 of that number, almost half.   13,000 elderly will have to come up with more money and almost 16,000 of the disabled will have to do so as well.  Arkansas isn’t hit as hard as many states.  The average increase will by $670 about $56 per month pushing $30 million collectively.   In Louisiana the average rental increase will be close to $800.  In Mississippi, it will be $830 per year, and on and on it goes.

Can families just save more and work a bit harder as Carson and HUD argue?  The AP reporters note that the increases are “about six times greater than the growth in average hourly earnings, putting poor workers at an increased risk of homelessness because wages haven’t kept pace with housing expenses.”  So, the Carson HUD plan will increase rents in order to increase homelessness.

We now have a HUD and its secretary promoting a pro-poverty plan!  America, what a country!

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If It’s Not Racism, What Else Could It Be?

Greenville     Why bend over backwards anymore trying to figure out some rational reason that Washington politicians and policy makers are enacting some of their new policies and rollbacks?  If it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, it is probably a duck.  If some of these policies are not blatant racism, what else could it be?   The cases, one after another, are marching in lockstep behind each other.

The House of Representatives joined the earlier Republicans in the Senate in rolling back an Obama-era rule that had prevented racial discrimination in auto loans.  You understand what I’m saying, they just made it legal to charge African-Americans and others higher interest rates when getting auto loans than they charge white families.  How is that not racism?

Fair housing groups both nationally and in Texas have been forced to sue Ben Carson and HUD to get enforcement of an Obama-era rule that had been promulgated after two years of hearing that amended the 50-year old Fair Housing Act that would mandate that housing recovery money be spent for those in the most need and without discrimination.  Suspending the rule has allowed Hurricane Harvey money to not be spent by those guidelines in Houston’s recovery.  How is that not racism?

President Trump has ranted for months about a caravan of families that assembled in Central America in a march that more than 200 successfully completed in order to petition for asylum in the United States because of violence and attacks against them in their countries.  Trump spoke of this as an “invasion” in order to stoke the anti-immigrant bias and hate from his base.  Now the Justice Department is calling for criminal prosecution of all border crossers and breaking up families.  Trump’s director of Homeland Security called for immigrants to go to recognized ports of entry to appeal for asylum, which is exactly what the caravan walkers had done.  How is that not racism?

I’m not saying it’s a surprise.  We all knew this was coming.  What’s shocking is how blatant it all is.  The level of impunity is amazing.  Watching the clock turn back more than 50 years in front of our eyes is devastating.

Recently I’ve been hearing the advice, “When someone shows you who they are, listen to them.”  I’m listening and looking, and there’s no denying who they are.  The question is increasingly how we stand together against them when it is pure and simple racism?

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Please Enjoy Matthew Logan Vasquez’s Sierra Blanca.

Thanks to KABF. 

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