Welfare Warriors


Summer
2009

MW Voice FEATURE

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War

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Resistance in the War
Against the Poor

other SUMMER 2009 articles

 

  Summer 2009


Stable Affordable Housing Prevents Death

•   A San Francisco Department of Health study showed that stable supportive housing reduced the risk of death among people with AIDS by 80 percent.

 • The Chicago Housing Health Partnership Study (CHHP) found that unstably housed people spent a total of 4,000 more days in the nursing home than their housed cohorts—costing $2 million.

 •   A Canadian study of HIV-positive women showed stable housing could allow them to escape violence situations. It also improved treatment outcomes. 

•   A study of street involved youth found that unstable housing increased the number of sex partners among the youth. 

Yet…Less and Less Affordable Housing in US 

•  Harvard's Center for Joint Housing Studies reported that the nation is losing two hundred thousand rental housing units a year to demolition. That is double the number of units being created under the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. This is a tax credit created under the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA86) that gives incentives for using private equity in the development of affordable housing.   

•  During Reagan’s presidency, Congress halved the budget for public housing. And during Reagan’s first term, Congress threw over half a million people off the disability rolls. Since then homelessness has became a visible epidemic in the US. Millions live on city streets and in Tent Cities. With Clinton’s welfare deform (1996), the last threads of the safety net were unraveled, adding mothers and children to those in the streets. 

•  Since 1996 the federal government has budgeted precisely zero dollars for new public housing. Waiting lists for Section 8 are 5 digits deep. 

•  The anti-foreclosure bill signed by President Obama provides  $13.6 billion of housing recovery money to homeowners. But the bill ignored the one-third of American households who rent. That includes more than 2 million households in New York City alone. 

•  Predatory banks targeted Blacks and Latinos three times more than Whites for high-cost subprime loans. This population may lose between $164 billion and $213 billion on loans taken in the past eight years.

•  15 Percent of housing units were sitting vacant in the US during the last quarter of 2008 (19 million homes) 

Desperate for Affordable Housing 

•   In Benton Harbor Michigan, 2000 residents lined up at the housing authority for 3 days and 2 nights, to apply for section 8 last June. If they left the line, they lost their place. So people stayed overnight..

•   In Plymouth MN 3700 people swamped City Hall to enter a lottery for 300 vouchers for subsidized housing

•   A new DC study, “No Vacancy” found that victims of male partner violence face discrimination when seeking rental housing. The Equal Rights Center reported that 65 percent of such victims were either denied housing outright or offered harsher terms and conditions than the non-victim testers. This is illegal.

Housing Help Improves Student Success

            Flint Michigan is a city of empty concrete lots of abandoned factories…and struggling families. With high unemployment and low wages, families move often.  As a result many children move from school to school. They have a hard time keeping up academically.

            In 2004 Flint’s Department of Human Services began an experiment called the Genesee Scholars Program. The plan was to keep second graders in one school for two years. How did they do this? They provide a $100 a month rent subsidy to participating families. The money is paid to the landlords who must agree to keep houses up to code and not to raise rents.

            In both 2004 and 2006 the pilot program was a great success. Parents moved less often. And third graders scored significantly higher on state-wide tests.

Housing Works Update

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