Section 8 is not public housing, it is a tax giveaway for the wealthy

Section 8 is not public housing, it is a tax giveaway for the wealthy

At the white supremacist flavored Republican National Committee last week in yet another Hatch Act violation, we saw Black and Latinx residents of NY public housing (unknowingly) discussing public housing challenges. Their appearance was to support the stand from many on the right that privatization of all of public housing is going to be great. 

The type of privatizing of public housing that is most appealing to the wealthy is done through a type of Section 8 program called project-based Section 8 or Section 8 New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation.

It is similar to Block Grants, which is popular in the South and how early childhood education is often funded. Block Grants were a conservative innovation to get around federal requirements, like Civil Rights and giving a damn…. It’s a brilliant way to do “state’s rights.” 

“Block grant critics argue that block grants can undermine the achievement of national objectives and can be used as a “backdoor” means to reduce government spending on domestic issues,” —Congressional Research Services

Developers get together with a nonprofit or church (though the Catholic Charities has a development division), and then get funding to build “low-income” properties almost entirely paid for— through tax dollars, which would be you, the community.

For example, in Inglewood, California, a project was approved in 2011 called the Chandler Partners Regent Square development. It is a $42 million project funded with $13.9 million in housing set-aside funds, $4 million in HUD HOME, $20 million in tax-exempt bonds and tax credit equity. That means the Chandler Partners built a $42 million project, and nearly $38 million of that project was built with public money. 

There is no requirement after the project is done that it remain affordable, and there is rarely a discussion prior to these projects’ approval with the surrounding communities. Often the nonprofit propaganda machine lays down the groundwork before the announcement by connecting with the area churches and community groups and disingenuously discussing the need for housing, which of course everyone agrees with, so when this happens these nonprofits funded by major banks are like, “Isn’t god good, look at that?” 

And everyone around them shakes their head in agreement to the idea that this is INDEED a miracle. Unfortunately, it’s typically the act of the devil.

The election in November is slightly more critical than usual, but many of these policies have been in place since the 1960s. We need to start dismantling this country’s institutional supports of white supremacy and its attachment to lousy policies that only benefit the wealthy. 

by Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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