Terrible Idea of the Day: Evict Public Housing Tenants!

New Orleans     Almost everyone else in America knows that we have a national affordable housing crisis.  Maybe someone in Washington could take a minute out of their day pop by or send an email to Dr. Ben Carson, the head of Trump’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) operation responsible for housing and give him a clue about the housing dilemma facing lower income families that is his responsibility by law.

Not having a clue, Carson is now proposing to take several draconian steps to punish the poor in public housing.  On one hand he is trying to time-limit public housing so that it is a temporary benefit rather than long term based on income.  This proposal affects millions of low income families.  Work requirements would be part of the package.  On the other hand, Carson wants to triple the rents of the poorest of the families in public housing or benefiting from section 8 housing support vouchers in private housing by raising the minimum rent from $50 to $150 over a period of time.  This proposal over time would hurt 750,000 people according to HUD.

I have to wonder where Carson and HUD, along with their governmental pushers and enablers, think that people will go if they are priced or timed out of public housing? Perhaps the streets?  No, that wouldn’t work.  The rich and politicians don’t like vast and increasing numbers of homeless on the streets.  The only thing certain is that they will hope and pray that the poor are invisible to them, which seems the only policy that has their full commitment.  But, wait, I must be pretending that they care about the consequences of these policies rather than allowing them to be purely vindictive.  My bad!

The puppet master for this proposal now being mouthed by Carson seems to be budget director Mick Mulvaney.  Yes, Mick Mulvaney, the same public servant who is doing double duty trying to destroy the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  He rivals President Trump these days in dominating the news cycle.  Today he was not only trying to destroy public housing supports, but he was also trying to block public access to the CFPB’s popular database of complaints from consumers.  Even better he was revealing his “pay to play” policy while he was a congressman by meeting with lobbyists first and foremost if they had donated to his campaign.  He offered this obvious insight to a group of bankers about why they needed to put more dollars into buying other congressmen if they wanted to gut the CFPB and Dodd-Frank.

There’s a lesson here of course.  After decades of dismantling public housing, millions stuck on waiting lists around the country for section 8 vouchers which are not an entitlement, the crash of the real estate construction market after the housing speculation bubble burst, the creation of the credit desert and slowdown of construction financing for affordable housing, rising rents and record eviction rates, the problem turns out to be that these damn poor people didn’t pool enough money and food stamps together to pay lobbyists and bribe politicians like Mulvaney with campaign contributions.

Darned, why didn’t we think of that!

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HUD is Wrong on Lead Standards and Must do Right

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Top Sources of Lead in the Home

New Orleans   Here’s a simple question that I don’t think will take anyone long to answer, though perhaps it should.

Donald Trump and his latest wife have a 9-year old son, Barron. Michelle and Barack Obama moved into the White House with two young daughters whose age at the time was less than two digits. Hillary and Bill Clinton raised a young daughter in the White House during their eight years in residence. The White House is the prime example of public housing in the United States, so here’s the question: would any of these mothers and fathers be willing, or have been willing, to move their young, vulnerable children into the public housing on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC if the White House was using the same lead standard as HUD, the Housing and Urban Development Department, uses for the rest of the public housing in the country?

You know the answer. And, you know the answer isn’t, “No,” but “No, way!”

These days we’re reading the daily news about lead in the water in Flint, Michigan and the terrible toll it is taking. We’re reading about the on-going damage from lead paint that has damaged children in Cleveland for decades. Over 80% of prisoners in jail have shown signs for prior lead poisoning, where public authorities bothered to actually test them for lead, which should also be mandatory. Besides the tragedy of ruined and painful lives, the cost of medical care, educational support, loss of lifetime earnings, and future taxes that we’re paying for our negligence is in the billions. So, here’s what should be another easy question. Controlling lead poisoning should be a no-brainer, right?

Unbelievably, the answer so far is not yes, but no. There is a chance to change the answer though at least for low-income and largely minority children who are living in 1.6 million households with children at-risk for lead poisoning, because they are in HUD public or subsidized housing.

For some unfathomable reason though, and it likely has to do with money and, more disturbingly, the fact that the damaged population is in fact lower income and minority, and therefore in the eyes of Congress and too many bureaucrats, not worth saving, HUD’s standards for acceptable lead levels requiring action are below 20 micrograms per deciliter or 15 to 19 micrograms per deciliter over three months. As Emily Benfer, a Chicago lawyer and lead expert writes in The New York Times, these are already “levels that cause severe and permanent brain damage.” These are also levels that are three and four times the federal Center for Disease Control Center’s recommendation of “intervention for lead poisoning at 5 micrograms per deciliter.” And, hey, the CDC’s recommendations are also felt by lead experts to be absurd because the intervention level should be anything over zero!

There is a rule-making petition that is confronting HUD with a demand to change its standards for lead prevention. Maybe not to the White House level yet, but at least no worse than the CDC. Emily Benfer wrote the petition with her team and as she says, it has support:

I am thrilled to report that the Health Justice Project, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and 28 national non-profits, racial justice organizations, medical-legal partnerships, civil legal aid organizations, civil rights groups, scientists, public health practitioners, advocates, and medical providers filed a petition for rule making with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve lead poisoning prevention in federally assisted housing. We are especially grateful to leadnet advocates Richard Reibstein, Beth Butler, Dr. Howard Mielke, Dr. Bruce Lanphear, Dr. David Rosner, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, and the Childhood Lead Action Project for their support and guidance!

For the rest of us there is something we can do as well: write our Senators and Congresspeople and ask them to co-sponsor the bills introduced by Senator Durban of Illinois and Senator Menendez of New Jersey in the US Senate and Congressional Representatives Ellison from Minnesota, Quigley from Illinois, and Lawrence from Pennsylvania in the House.

Let’s have one standard for all public housing, rather than leaving the poor on the curb.

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wpc winter 2011 6 unusual sources of lead

wpc winter 2011 6b unusual sources of lead

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