HBD: Human Biodiversity

Movin' On Up

The housing bust hasn’t been bad for everybody, as the Wall Street Journal tells us.

HENDERSON, Nev.—When Shawnetta Newburn left her drug-infested St. Louis neighborhood in search of a better life for her family in Las Vegas, she didn't expect to live in a house with frills worthy of a McMansion.

But Paradise awaited.

That's the name of the gated community where Ms. Newburn, a single mother who makes $10.50 an hour as a pawn-shop cashier, rents a three-bedroom townhouse with soaring ceilings, a gas-fueled fireplace and an oversize walk-in closet in the largest bedroom. The master bath even includes an enclosed toilet room, a feature popular in mini-mansions.

"The only time I ever saw that was on TV or something," she says during a tour of the approximately 2,000-square-foot home. "I never thought I'd have anything like this." The development has a kidney-shaped swimming pool.

Her previous apartment in St. Louis resembled public housing, she says, and her three sons were crammed into one bedroom. After her refrigerator caught fire, her landlord replaced it with an outdated brown model. She now has gleaming-white appliances.

Ms. Newburn can thank the housing bust. She participates in a government program for low-income families that subsidizes about half of her $1,400 monthly rent. The program, known as Section 8, has for decades put families in functional but basic homes and apartments, sometimes in less-than-desirable communities.

But overbuilding during the housing boom has left so many homes available that landlords, desperate for renters, are wooing Section 8 recipients, whose government subsidies, delivered electronically, guarantee the landlord gets paid. As a result, Section 8 recipients suddenly have a housing smorgasbord...

The change marks one of the most dramatic shifts since the 1974 creation of Section 8, nicknamed after its location in the U.S. Housing and Community Development Act. The $18.1 billion Housing and Urban Development program offers more than 2 million families the chance to live outside of housing projects. Recipients pay a certain percentage of their income, typically no more than 30%, each month.

What’s most dangerous about this development is that it could lead to Section 8 housing being an attractive option for white people.  The main reason whites don’t take advantage of government programs for the poor as much as they could is because living off the government has usually meant you had to dwell amongst blacks. If it becomes possible to use your voucher to move into a decent area one of the biggest disincentives to going on Section 8 is removed.  Theodore Dalrymple in his articles and books has shown what happens to lower class whites when welfare becomes a realistic option.  

It must be said that these programs are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national budget.  As much as these stories may anger us, we have to remember that what government spends on “defense,” over fifty times that thrown at Section 8, makes this program seem like pocket change. The Journal has no problem with that.