Saturday, August 09, 2008

Clouds and Linings

The property market in California has descended from nose bleed levels, returning to something like sane valuations. Consequently, Section 8 vouchers plus a little are sufficient to get poor African Americans out of ghettos into middle class neighborhoods.
ANTIOCH, Calif. — From the tough streets of Oakland, where so many of Alice Payne’s relatives and friends had been shot to death, the newspaper advertisement for a federally assisted rental property in this Northern California suburb was like a bridge across the River Jordan.

Ms. Payne, a 42-year-old African-American mother of five, moved to Antioch in 2006. With the local real estate market slowing and a housing voucher covering two-thirds of the rent, she found she could afford a large, new home, with a pool, for $2,200 a month.
Other than school vouchers, this may be the only dissonant note in the chorus of despair surrounding poor blacks.

Odd, but the housing crisis may be what it takes to start dismantling ghettos. [In other news, an NPR piece I heard the last half of a few weeks ago was discussing the pros and cons of significantly increased gentrification of downtown areas. Another dissonant note?]

It is always wise to keep in mind, though, that there is no such thing as a silver lining without a cloud.
Law enforcement experts and housing researchers argue that rising crime rates follow Section 8 recipients to their new homes, while other experts discount any direct link. But there is little doubt that cultural shock waves have followed the migration. Social and racial tensions between newcomers and their neighbors have increased, forcing suburban communities like Antioch to re-evaluate their civic identities along with their methods of dealing with the new residents.
Adjusting the text for NYT cant, clearly these new arrivals from the ghetto have brought some of its pathologies with them.

Hard to imagine how it could be otherwise. However, it will be a small price to pay if the consequence is to pull poor blacks into mainstream society.

Hypocrisy alert: I must admit I find that price much easier to pay, knowing I will never see the bill.


Blogger Susan's Husband said...

You might want to read this on the subject.

And this which is the same thing write larger in Africa.

August 09, 2008 2:21 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Developers get breaks and incentives from us tax payers to build subsidized (BTW the new term is "workforce") housing. Obama was involved with one in Chicago which fell apart (sorry I don't have a link).

Before Harry gets riled up, I don't care if someone wants to use their own money to build and subsidize rentals, what I object to is being forced to pay them to do well by doing "good."

We're getting our very own workforce housing here in our CRA infested town. Here's an article about what happened in Boca Raton. Even without new housing, we have gotten a lot of Section 8 rentals in the areas where they overbuilt like crazy and crime is up, so we not only augment landlords' rent, we also pay for more police protection and have our quality of life go in the tank as well.

Say goodbye to housing values around here, but what the heck, developers will be able to fill in the gap while waiting until property values rise somewhere else.

Without Section 8, landlords would have to charge whatever rent traffic would bear, so in the end, lower income people would pay what they're paying anyway. The difference is now we are paying the difference.

We lowered the rent on a condo we own until we found a renter who was able to pay it. We and they are perfectly happy with the arrangement. Had we gotten a Section 8 rental, we could have gotten considerably more per month, but we don't feel comfortable asking our neighbors to subsidize our income. So Harry, we are putting our money where our mouth is.

August 09, 2008 3:38 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Here's the article

August 09, 2008 3:41 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

For $2,200 a month, you can live on Maui.

In fact, you can do it for half that, though you'll have to share the condo pool instead of having your own.

Whatever anybody thinks about anything, $2,200 a month rentals, even two-thirds subsidized, are not an out for slum dwellers.

August 10, 2008 12:54 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Harry, you miss the point.

Subsidized housing isn't to benefit slum dwellers or any other of the "underclass," it's a ploy to redistribute income from tax payers and put it into the hands of developers, landlords and do-gooders.

If building low cost rental units was profitable, builders would build them without looking for handouts.

Do well by doing "good" is alive and well.

August 10, 2008 5:43 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...






As my previous post on this subject showed, I am deeply pessimistic about the prospects of meaningful improvement for poor blacks.

So, when I wrote this one, I definitely fell prey to the "glass 1/10th full" problem. As well, OJ has maintained (and I agree), that if "we" had established small areas of low -income housing in the first place, instead of forcing blacks into ghettoes, that this problem might not even exist. His charge, and again I agree, is that white racism eliminated the possibility.

When I was selling my house in Michigan, we had several Section-8 prospects take a look. Even though I didn't really know heck-all about S-8, I didn't want anything to do with it.

Fortunately, divorcing my ego from market reality meant we sold our house, instead.

So, I am wrong. This development will not help. And, on top of that, I am a hypocrite.


August 13, 2008 1:13 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Skipper, I'm sorry if you took my comments to mean I think you're a hypocrite. I don't and you aren't.

It's hard to accept that the social engineering taking place now and in the past has nothing to do with helping anybody other than bureaucrats and politicos.

Remember the War of Poverty? A trillion dollars was spent and in the end the poor were poorer and the public sector unions were richer.

August 13, 2008 6:56 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Skipper, I'm sorry if you took my comments to mean I think you're a hypocrite. I don't and you aren't.

No, I didn't think you said that, and yes, I am: see the post's tag line.

At first, I thought Section 8 housing, combined with the drop in property values, a good, albeit completely unintended, way to get poor blacks out of ghetto pathology.

Whether it is or not (and I suspect not is the answer), I was in favor of it in direct proportion to the distance separating my house from the nearest section 8.

I'd say that is a pretty classic definition of "hypocrite".

August 13, 2008 3:52 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Whoa, let's back up.

The War on Poverty didn't leave the poor poorer. And the 'ghettos' (a word I think could usefully be saved for its original purpose) go back a long, long way.

It wasn't an innovation of the '60s that filled Harlem up with black people. They were crammed into horrible housing in southern cities as well.

You have to be pretty old to remember them, but I am pretty old. I recall, as a cub reporter, around 1968, that we routinely reported -- in two paragraphs -- the discovery of frozen bodies in the Church Street (black slums) area on cold mornings.

I remember brick buildings, still occupied, on Church Street with cracks in the walls big enough to throw a cat through.

There were non-black people living in circumstances just as bad, too.

So it wasn't only racism at work.

I recommend, next time you are in Manhattan, a visit to the East Side Tenement Museum.

August 13, 2008 4:17 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Skipper, don't beat yourself up. Sometimes all the ramifications of an issue elude us, ergo the phenomenon of unintended consequences.

Harry, I was 34 years old in 1968 and I said the poor were poorer after we spent a trillion dollars in an attempt to make them less poor, I didn't say they were middle class burghers prior to the War on Poverty.

I'm glad you see the problem has nothing to do with racism other than the racism among the poverty pimps against their own race.

Ghetto is a perfectly good word, but if you prefer, inner city or modern ghetto does just as well. Whatever you call it, it means a place where the most unfortunate among us are herded to keep them confined and more easily managed the better to use their plight to shakedown taxpayers and corporations.

August 13, 2008 5:40 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

The War on Poverty didn't leave the poor poorer.

Well, it sure didn't leave them any richer, either.

However, in making a shambles of the black family, it rendered above ground nuclear testing a damp squib in comparison.

Which, come to think of it, did leave poor blacks a lot poorer than they would have been otherwise.

But as I said previously, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Fine. Now what?

August 13, 2008 9:22 PM  

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