Paul Sperry, New York Post, May 8, 2016
Hillary’s rumored running mate, Housing Secretary Julian Castro, is cooking up a scheme to reallocate funding for Section 8 housing to punish suburbs for being too white and too wealthy.
The scheme involves super-sizing vouchers to help urban poor afford higher rents in pricey areas, such as Westchester County, while assigning them government real estate agents called “mobility counselors” to secure housing in the exurbs.
Anticipating NIMBY resistance, Castro last month threatened to sue suburban landlords for discrimination if they refuse even Section 8 tenants with criminal records. And last year, he implemented a powerful new regulation–“Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing”–that pressures all suburban counties taking federal grant money to change local zoning laws to build more low-income housing (landlords of such properties are required to accept Section 8 vouchers).
Castro is expected to finalize the new regulation, known as “Small-Area Fair Market Rents” (SAFMR), this October, in the last days of the Obama presidency.
In expensive ZIP codes, Castro’s plan–which requires no congressional approval–would more than double the standard subsidy, while also covering utilities. At the same time, he intends to reduce subsidies for those who choose to stay in housing in poor urban areas, such as Brooklyn. So Section 8 tenants won’t just be pulled to the suburbs, they’ll be pushed there.
“We want to use our housing-choice vouchers to ensure that we don’t have a concentration of poverty and the aggregation of racial minorities in one part of town, the poor part of town,” the HUD chief said recently, adding that he’s trying to undo the “result of discriminatory policies and practices in the past, and sometimes even now.”
A draft of the new HUD rule anticipates more than 350,000 Section 8 voucher holders will initially be resettled under the SAFMR program. Under Obama, the total number of voucher households has grown to more than 2.2 million.
President Bill Clinton started a similar program in 1994 called “Moving to Opportunity Initiative,” which moved thousands of mostly African-American families from government projects to higher-quality homes in safer and less racially segregated neighborhoods in several counties across the country.
The 15-year experiment bombed.
A 2011 study sponsored by HUD found that adults using more generous Section 8 vouchers did not get better jobs or get off welfare. In fact, more went on food stamps. And their children did not do better in their new schools.
Worse, crime simply followed them to their safer neighborhoods, ruining the quality of life for existing residents.
“Males . . . were arrested more often than those in the control group, primarily for property crimes,” the study found.