Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Monday, June 26, 2017

Listen to arrogance then read the facts

Re:  Affordable Housing

Listen to Oregon House Rep. Tina Kotek speak to a group of apartment owners in February, 2017 about the legislature's plans to tackle the affordable housing crisis.

It's incredible that lawmakers think that they can knockover one domino and expect it to affect only one other.  They choose not to see the cascade of dominoes ready to fall once that first one is pushed -  even when the politicians are made known the known consequences of their actions. It's called willful blindness.  

Read the transcript of a talk by Edward Olsen, economist at the University of Virginia as he describes the best method for housing low-income families in order to cut childhood poverty in half in 10 years.

The best study of HUD’s largest program that subsidized the construction of privately owned projects (the Section 8 New Construction Program) found that the total cost of providing housing under this program was at least 44 percent greater than the total cost of providing equally good housing under the housing voucher program. This translated into an excess taxpayer cost of at least 72 percent for the same outcome. It implies that housing vouchers could have served all the people served by this program equally well (that is, provided them with equally good housing for the same rent) and served at least 72 percent more people with the same characteristics without any increase in public spending. The best study indicates an even larger excess cost for public housing.

Phasing out housing projects in favor of the cost-effective housing voucher program would ultimately free up the resources to provide housing assistance to millions of additional families with children. This is the largest opportunity to reduce child poverty through housing policy reform without spending more money.

Specifically, when the time comes to demolish or substantially renovate public housing projects, we should sell these properties to the highest bidder rather than redevelop them, and give their tenants housing vouchers. 

The best opportunity to reduce child poverty rapidly is to divert money from the construction of new tax credit projects to the housing voucher program. The tax credit program is a cost-ineffective method for delivering housing assistance, and new tax credit projects serve few extremely low-income families.

Which plan is most likely to accomplish the goal of housing the most vulnerable citizens considering numbers and cost?  Which plan is better for Oregon?  What other plans are there, and what proof do you have that they are guaranteed to give you the results you want?

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