Saturday, July 28, 2018

Last Call For Housing Of Pain

Glenn Thrush at the New York Times notes that the affordable housing crisis in America has only gotten worse under the Trump regime, and that millions of Americans will receive no help from the federal government.  After all, HUD Secretary Ben Carson doesn't even think HUD should exist.

The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need.

The Trump administration’s main policy response, unveiled this spring by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development: a plan to triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid and to loosen the cap on rents on 4.5 million households enrolled in federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide, with the goal of moving longtime tenants out of the system to make way for new ones.

As city and state officials and members of both parties clamor for the federal government to help, Mr. Carson has privately told aides that he views the shortage of affordable housing as regrettable, but as essentially a local problem.

A former presidential candidate who said last year that he did not want to give recipients of federal aid “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say, ‘I’ll just stay here; they will take care of me,’” he has made it a priority to reduce, rather than expand, assistance to the poor, to break what he sees as a cycle of dependency.

And when congressional Democrats and Republicans scrambled to save his department’s budget and rescue an endangered tax credit that accounts for nine out of 10 affordable housing developments built in the country, Mr. Carson sat on the sidelines, according to legislators and congressional staff members.

Local officials seem resigned to the fact that they will receive little or no help from the Trump administration.

“To be brutally honest, I think that we aren’t really getting any help right now out of Washington, and the situation has gotten really bad over the last two years,” said Chad Williams, executive director of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority, which oversees public housing developments and voucher programs that serve 16,000 people in the Las Vegas area.

Nevada, ground zero in the housing crisis a decade ago, is now the epicenter of the affordability crunch, with low-income residents squeezed out of once-affordable apartments by working-class refugees fleeing from California’s own rental crisis.

“I think Carson’s ideas, that public housing shouldn’t be multigenerational, are noble,” Mr. Williams said. “But right now these programs are a stable, Band-Aid fix, and we really need them.”

Local governments do have a lot of blame to take for housing issues.  Local politicians are elected by homeowners, and homeowners want property values as high as possible after the housing collapse ten years ago. Increasing property values to create a better tax base was the only priority for cities and counties over the last decade, because without that, everything else falls apart.

So zoning laws became worse, and voters elected people who would raise property values back to where they were ten years past, and that meant being as hostile as possible to the concept of affordable housing.

Of course the Trump Regime then basically got out of the affordable housing business altogether, so for millions of us, it's not going to get any better anytime soon.

Why the Trump regime is trying to bring on another housing collapse, well, if you're as obviously turned on by autocracy as Trump is, the chaos of another 2008 housing collapse sure would be useful, right?

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