Federal Voucher Reform Bill Will Harm Poorest Tenants

The federal government is about to remove the cap that limits the amount of rent that can be charged to the poorest of the poor. Yet, there are no caps on how much money the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry can grab for their often excessively high salaries and wage compensation.

Commentary by Lynda Carson

 

As so-called charities and nonprofit affordable housing developers are grabbing more and more funds from the nation’s affordable housing programs to pay their extremely high salaries, there is less money to go around for the needs of the poor, and to subsidize low-income renters.

As a direct result, on behalf of the affordable housing industry that wants to keep these high salaries in place, the federal government is about to remove the cap that limits the amount of rent that can be charged to the poorest of the poor.

Yet, there are no caps on how much money the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry can grab for their often excessively high salaries and wage compensation.

A revised draft of the proposed voucher reform bill was released by Republican staff of the House Financial Services Committee on Jan, 13, 2012. In essence, the voucher reform bill would end an existing cap on the amount of monthly rent that poor residents can be forced to pay. If the proposed new measure is passed into law, it would negatively affect low-income residents throughout the country who reside in public housing, or live in subsidized housing units, or hold Section 8 vouchers.

Rather than asking affordable housing developers to reduce their exorbitant salaries, the poor are being asked to give more of what little they have, or face eviction from subsidized housing.

As an example: Project-based Section 8 tenants typically pay 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent, with rental assistance making up the difference between what the tenants can afford and the approved rent. But even tenants with very little or no income are required to pay something. Currently, if 30 percent of a tenant’s income is less than $50, he or she can be charged a minimum rent of up to $50 a month.

Under the draft of the new law, the cap on the minimum rent would be lifted. The new minimum rent would be set at least $69.45, and would be annually indexed to inflation.

If the caps are removed there will be no limits to rent increases. “The current HUD secretary, or the next one could go beyond,” said Linda Couch of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. With the cap removed, “there is no limit.”

“Freedom of Assembly.” This artwork by Art Hazelwood is one of four panels that portray the way our nation has utterly failed to honor the “Four Freedoms” proclaimed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

 

Any and all tenants that cannot pay the new rent increases being demanded of them face eviction.

Meanwhile, covetous executives in the so-called affordable housing industry are allowed to continue grabbing more funds for their excessive salaries.

All tenants living in affordable housing projects are urged to unite and protest. They are urged to demand in writing that executives and employees in the organizations that own and manage the buildings they reside in must roll back their salaries and wage compensation to less than $80,000 per year!

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Laura’s Law and the Danger of Forced Detention

“Art in Jail” by Jos Sances. Serigraph, Edition 120, 8 color, 22” x 30”“Art in Jail” by Jos Sances. Serigraph, Edition 120, 8 color, 22” x 30”

How much sweeter “Laura’s Law” sounds than Forced Detention or Treatment! Yet it all sounds an awful lot like the usual government arguments used to justify surveillance, control, invasion of privacy. Who is to say this new law won’t be used to punish and isolate the indigent and the ill?

How a Community Was Scattered to the Wind

Bulldozer.jpg Albany officials sent in bulldozers and haulers to demolish the homes and destroy the belongings of scores of homeless people at the Albany Bulb. Lydia Gans photo

At 4:30 a.m., the police came, 30 of them. Armed with assault rifles, they broke down our front gate, tore down the door to our living space and arrested us for lodging. Our home was destroyed, our puppy was taken to the pound and our possessions were scattered to the wind.

Oakland Gives Green Light to Massive Gentrification

Gentrify.jpg The proposed mixed-use infill development in Opportunity Area 2, along Oakland’s historic 7th Street commercial corridor. Poor people are conspicuously absent in this picture.

The West Oakland Specific Plan will target Opportunity Sites for redevelopment and maximum exploitation by wealthy developers. Low-income people need not apply, and have been abandoned to fend for themselves once this gentrification scheme gains traction. Prologis Inc. and California Capital Investment Group are spearheading this gentrification scheme.

Exposing the Untold History of Psychiatric Atrocities

Photo by R. Valentine Atkinson, reprinted from The History of Shock Treatment, by Leonard Roy Frank

Over its history, Street Spirit has published a series of in-depth reports on many different kinds of psychiatric abuses that have been carried out in the name of healing, yet often end up damaging and disabling people for life. In light of renewed calls for forced psychiatric detention under the guise of “helping the mentally ill,” we are collecting and re-publishing these stories in a new section “Psychiatric Abuses and Human Rights”. 

Laura’s Law Passed by S.F. Board of Supervisors

Shadows on the wall. A dance of liberation from dehumanization in locked psychiatric wards. Art by Tanya Temkin

“I really feel that if we move forward without full and adequate funding of our mental health system, this may be leading to a false hope of safety in our neighborhoods,” said Eric Mar. “And I worry that there’s a danger of further stigmatizing people with mental illness.”

The Artistic Vision of Charles Curtis Blackwell

His eyesight was severely damaged in an accident when he was young, yet Blackwell’s love for jazz and the blues shines through in his colorful paintings of musicians. To overcome the obstacle of his near-blindness, he stands extremely close to the canvas, his eyes only inches away from his brush strokes.