Thursday, May 5, 2011

Public housing money, a dribble at a time

There's a shaky stone dam on the biggest mill pond in my New England home town. Once the water ran a paper mill. Now, most of the year, the water just sits there, impounded, used for swimming and boating but not flowing out except for a few trickles over the stones at the dam. It's only in full spring that you see a broad waterfall over the top.

Today's HUD Section 202 "Emergency Capital Repair Grant Program" awards make me think of that tiny kitchen-faucet flow over the old stones. These "emergency" grants for repairs are a drop in the proverbial bucket, just under $5 million altogether, sprinkled among seniors' projects all over a continent.

So, yes, it is spring at HUD, it's full grant award season, and in a sense you can say the water is flowing over "the" dam. You can read all about the big grants on the press release page. But really it isn't like there's one big dam. We have huge amounts of wealth held back in a whole system of money ponds behind an over-complex network of particular dams, and although it is full springtime, some of those dams are giving up only a dribble at a time.

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