Diary

The Obama Housing Plan

President Obama announced a new plan for low-income housing. He wants to distribute low-income households into more affluent communities. There are many technical barriers to this plan. For example, being able to afford housing in a neighborhood is not the same as being able to afford to live there. But let’s ignore these minor difficulties and move directly to the implementation phase.

Since the president and members of his administration believe this is a good idea, why not start with their neighborhoods? I’m pretty sure Martha’s Vineyard residents have an income distribution skewed heavily to the upper ten percent. Next, let’s go to Oahu. There are many Hawai’ians living in poverty in the town of Waianae. My guess is that some of them would like to live near the Obama family’s various vacation spots. After that, let’s work through the cabinet, preferably starting with the HUD secretary Julián Castro. Personally I would put the Secretary of State high up that list, but that’s just me. And if you’d like to add zip code 10514, I won’t argue.

All this can be easily accomplished with riders to appropriations bills. Congress already micro-manages many aspects of spending. One need look no further than the Defense Department budget to see countless examples. Simply specify that any funds spent to advance this program should be directed to specific geographic areas.

And then get the popcorn ready.

For those who haven’t heard about the latest dictatorial move by the Obama administration, here’s how HUD secretary Julián Castro described it on CNN:

“As a former mayor, I know firsthand that strong communities are vital to the well-being and prosperity of families,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement. “Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future.”

Castro later Wednesday morning tweeted “Ensuring that American families can live where they choose isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue — it’s an American issue” with the hashtag “#Fairhousing” at the end.

The Fair Housing Act requires HUD and its program recipients to promote fair housing and equal opportunity to ensure that all people have the right to fair housing regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. The new rule aims to provide program participants with clear guidelines and data — including searchable geo-spatial maps that incorporate data sets about income, race, disability status and other measures — they can use to reach those goals. The rule clarifies and simplifies existing fair housing obligations and creates a streamlined process for evaluating fair housing, the HUD statement said.

“HUD will provide open data to grantees and the public on patterns of integration and segregation, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, disproportionate housing needs, and disparities in access to opportunity,” the agency said.