Quiet debate of housing issues is very important

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

For years, I have argued that housing is the key challenge for communities. Above education, law enforcement, medical availability and jobs, housing often determines the future of a community, the make-up of its residents and the ability to attract and maintain its population.

And though it rarely makes the major headlines, the quiet debate over issues of housing is much more important than the public realizes.

Here’s a little background.

Under the Obama reign, social justice advocates targeted housing as their utopian way to control communities through a top-down national approach.

Obama famously proposed construction of new subsidized housing in affluent neighborhoods and the removal of criminal background checks as a requirement for housing assistance.

Even though the federal guidelines were designed solely for taxpayer-funded housing assistance, the new rules made their way into the private rental arena as well.

The result was that many landlords resisted complying with the new federal rules and abandoned the rental market.

The requirement on criminal background checks is not to punish those with a criminal history but rather to protect neighboring residents from someone who might pose a danger.

With little fanfare, the Trump administration is removing those Obama-era rules.

On Friday, Housing and Urban Development announced plans to abandon yet another Obama policy that used a computer model to assess whether communities were adequately addressing segregation policies on housing.

The policy was cumbersome and virtually impossible for smaller communities to comply with the new federal guidelines.

Still remaining is yet another policy that would force housing agencies to promote Section 8 vouchers in more expensive neighborhoods.

Ground zero in this latest housing showdown is in Seattle.

Seattle’s city policies often make San Francisco look conservative. And that liberal bastion on the west coast is paying the price.

Under their highly restrictive policies, landlords must offer rental property to the first person who meets the financial guidelines. No other qualification can apply.

So if a prospective renter has a lengthy criminal history and a spotty history of property damage or payment, it makes no difference — the landlord must offer that property for rental.

The result is that landlords are selling their properties, rents increase and residents have no assurance of safety.

The intent of the Seattle city government is to assure that discrimination is removed from the housing market.

The result of this social justice push is that residents are fleeing neighborhoods that were once safe and clean and desirable.

And if you want to know how this story ends, just look south to San Francisco to see the future that liberals embrace.

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