Friday, February 4, 2011

Run it down, then sell it off?

The homelessness policy thinkers at WRAP have posted a good breakdown of public housing privatization, wrapped around an edgy argument that "HUD has administered the planned obsolescence of public housing for well over 15 years." The suggestion is that Congress intentionally let public housing properties fall apart, and HUD went along with it, until the only sensible choice was to sell what was left. Dunno if I agree about the "planned" part -- it would be crediting both HUD and Congress with capacities for single-minded, coordinated malice that neither of those big squidgy institutions really has. But the policy background is worth reading, and I suppose a fair percentage of Congress really does want to drown our remaining bits of public housing in Grover Norquist's bathtub, so maybe the theory is worth considering too.

[To add some more workmanlike background: Shelterforce #162 last summer published a deeper group of official, liberal, and outsider perspectives on the privatization/preservation proposal, which was then called PETRA. One of the groups commenting there, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, maintains a monitoring page on the proposal, which was renamed the Rental Housing Revitalization Act late last year. It was H.R. 6468 in the previous Congress; it hasn't been reintroduced yet in the current one.]

[They're more immediately concerned about the HUD cuts proposed in the House today.]

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