Tag Archives: Ben Carson

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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The New HUD Seems OK with Racial Discrimination

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Little Rock       It has become a modern foundation of public policy, following Rahm Emanuel, now the Mayor of Chicago, and earlier when the comment was attributed to him when he was chief of staff for President Obama, to “…never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  Like Katrina a dozen years ago, many governmental policy makers saw the $28 billion in community development recovery funds going to Houston, the Gulf Coast, and Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma as just such an opportunity.   They might have been right except for the devastation being wrecked on the Housing & Urban Development department by Hurricane Ben Carson, its turn-back-the-hands-of-time Trump secretary.

Carson claims he’s not going soft on the mission of HUD to assure fair and equal housing and therefore to combat racism in public policies.  This claim is despite the fact of all evidence to the contrary.  He has removed the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from HUD’s mission statement according to a report in The New York Times.  He has put a hold on various fair housing investigations he inherited from the Obama administration.  He canceled a settlement conference with Facebook over fair housing violations in their ad targeting that have led fair housing organizations from around the country to join in filing suit against the department and Facebook in federal court in Manhattan recently.  He has gone soft on big developers over disability access.  He tried to reverse an Obama pilot, years in the making, that would allow section 8 vouchers to be used in more affluent neighborhoods.

Most disturbingly is the way HUD and local officials have handled a housing development in Houston, long recognized despite its gung-ho growth and prosperity in recent years as one of the most segregated cities in the country.   Before the Obama administration turned over the keys to the HUD building, they had slapped back hard at Mayor Sylvester Turner’s attempt to nix a 233-unit mixed income, racially diverse project called Fountain View in the upscale, largely white area around the Galleria.  Under Carson’s regime, a watered-down settlement was approved that bypassed HUD’s own lawyers and negotiated directly with Turner, despite his opposition to the project.  A proposed $14 million penalty that the developers would have had to pay to the Houston Housing Authority if the Fountain View project was scuttled also disappeared from the negotiations.

Not surprisingly, since HUD under Carson no longer has much interest in enforcing fair housing, national and local groups have now sued the city and HUD to block $5 billion in funds that are desperately needed for rebuilding neighborhoods until this issue is resolved.  This is a classic devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea situation.  For the sake of rebuilding Houston, are we supposed to join HUD and say racial discrimination is now hunky-dory?  We know that any delays in recovery funds can be fatal to neighborhoods.  On the other hand, allowing continued racial segregation, HUD-sanctioned or not, in Houston or any other city will eventually kill the city’s very heart and soul.

The choice seems clear.  Even if Carson and HUD are now OK with racial discrimination in housing and elsewhere, we must oppose it at every opportunity, no matter the pain.

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