The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the tag “social security”

A Better Approach to Help Low Income People Meet Housing Needs

For years various programs from public housing, section 8, HOME, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs have provided funding or tax incentives to developers to construct or rehabilitate affordable housing. The problem with this approach is several. First the cost of construction is high and most of the benefit of these expenditures go to developers, attorneys, syndicator etc. Second, some of the programs, LIHTC in particular do not house the people who need it the most, very low income people. Third, most of the locations of these properties are in low income communities that do not afford the tenants the opportunities of good schools and safe neighborhoods. Fourth, efforts to construct this type of housing in higher end suburbs results in extreme resistance and political opposition. NIMBYism is alive and well. Finally, low income housing has stabilized the lives of many low income people but has not moved them out of poverty.

A better approach would be to give low income people cash grants which they can use for housing or anything else. This approach has the advantage of being both efficient and effective. The tenant can live where he or she wants and can spend as much money on housing as they can afford. It would eliminate the NIMBY issue because there would not be a program label attached. Also, research shows cash grants such as social security, and the earned income tax credit have transferred millions of people out of poverty. The cash transfer if provided universally would inspire the construction of new housing. The HUD/FHA multifamily programs could be simplified and improved as financing tools for construction. Written by Paul Dribin

Show Us the Money

I am an advocate of a very simple idea, that low income Americans should be granted a guaranteed annual income. The idea has been around a long time and was even proposed by President Richard Nixon. These funds could be used however the user deemed fit and would replace categorical programs with a multitude of rules. The advantages are many:

1. All the funds flow directly to the individual, no middleman.

2. It puts the responsibility for the used where it belongs, on the individual.

3. It is administratively simple.

4. I housing and other low income programs it gives the recipient the choice of living where they want.

There are examples of this type of approach working. Both the Social Security Program, and Low Income Tax Credit provide direct transfers of funds to low income people and have brought millions of people out of poverty. Unfortunately, vested interests have lobbied against the type of change I have suggested. It is time to begin anew. Written by Paul Dribin

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