The importance of good housing / by kevin murray

This government provides a social safety net for healthcare, income subsidies through various welfare and earned income programs, food stamps, as well as public housing and housing vouchers.  As much progress that has been made to date, more progress needs to be made in all of these things, in which it must be noted that having a safe and secure place to be housed is of supreme merit.


The first basic way that this government takes care of low-income people and their housing needs is to provide them with a subsidy in which a portion of their income goes to the owner of the house or apartment, and the balance of the market rate of that rent is paid through a governmental voucher or subsidy to the owner of that dwelling through what is commonly known as the Section 8 program.  The advantage of this program is that this allows citizens to utilize housing and apartments that have already been built by private money and consortiums, and therefore the government need not build its own.


The second basic way that this government takes care of low-income people and their housing needs is for the government, national or state, to build housing projects for their residents to live in, and thereby this provides those citizens with a place to stay which charges them market rents that have taken into account the income of the residents and thereby requires from them an appropriate portion of that income in rent.


On paper, these programs would seem to be the programs necessary to assure that each citizen is provided with a reasonable basic standard of good, clean, and safe housing.  In effect, though, the waiting list for those desiring Section 8 housing, is incredibly long, in addition to the salient fact that Section 8 housing is concentrated most heavily in poorer and disadvantaged neighborhoods, and is almost unheard of in higher end neighborhoods.  As regards to public housing, the major flaw within this program is that the concentration of those that are impoverished and of low-income in the same general area makes for all the disadvantages of being in a low-income area, in the lack of good services, good paying jobs, good educational facilities, and basically good and safe infrastructure.


The fact that this government spends billions upon billions for housing for its citizenry is well intentioned, but to effectively segregate these people into low-income and dangerous communities as part and parcel of receiving such a subsidy is most unfortunate.  Additionally, the Section 8 voucher program in which it is not uncommon to literally wait years for a voucher to become effective would indicate the systemic flaws within that program.


The mistake that this government fundamentally makes within these housing programs is not to apparently recognize that concentrating together those that suffer from low-income and often ill education, will often mean the more hopeless that current generation as well as future generations will become.  Rather, it should be an integral part of these programs to successfully integrate lower-income people into good areas of communities, in a manner in which their assimilation will truly help to lift them out of their impoverished circumstances, thereby making this country both stronger and better; along with demonstrating that those that are given a good and fair opportunity are often worthy of that belief in their inherent abilities.