Quote of the Day:

If confirmed, [Ben] Carson will inherit an agency operating many programs that he’s likely to take issue with. Public housing is a paramount example of the long-term government dependency Carson decried during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

–Howard Husock, City Journal


Howard Husock points out that in New York, host to nation's largest system of public housing, the average public housing resident has spent twenty-two years in government-subsidized housing. This means that there is a culture of dysfunction and dependence that will hard to change.

However, Husock suggests that there are some immediate changes that a new HUD secretary could put into effect that would begin the necessary transformation.

One of Husock's key proposals is time limits for public and voucher housing. Public housing is supposed to be a safety net, not a mechanism for life-time dependency on subsidized housing (as it is now). Husock writes:

As a result of discretion permitted by the Moving to Work demonstration program, eight public-housing authorities have already adopted time limits, with promising results. In San Bernardino, California, incomes among those subject to a five-year time limit—call it short-term assistance if that sounds more compassionate—rose by more than 12 percent since 2008. Employment rates among those in the time-limited program rose by 17 percent. Time limits also free up housing units for those who’d otherwise be stuck on a waiting list. Carson should extend the discretion to impose such limits to all 3,000 of the nation’s public-housing authorities.

Public housing includes work disincentives: every time a resident of public housing gets a raise, her housing cost goes up. The Moving to Work program allowed public housing residents to sign a lease–just like other tenants. They were free to try to improve their lots in life without being penalized by higher rent.

Husock makes several other recommendations, and I urge you to read the entire piece. The good news is that Carson may be the man to change  the miasma of dependence that currently is public housing:

HUD has made many mistakes over the years. Instead of pursuing yet another scheme to rebuild America’s inner cities, HUD should instead do what it can to make poor neighborhoods safe and attractive to private investment. The agency should cease ordering banks to make such investments and roll back disincentives for upward mobility. Ben Carson is just the man for that job.