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9.2.09

Ending costly subsidies encourages moving forward

It’s too bad that Hurricane Katrina had to strike the New Orleans area about 42 months ago, displacing hundreds of thousands who had to find new places to live and means to finance them. But enough is enough: the federal program that subsidizes rent for those who are verified as having lived in an area hit by Katrina needs to end on schedule at the end of this month.

For some, the elderly and disabled, slack should be given and a federal program to do so is starting operations. If processing applications is too slow, extensions should be given to ensure all who are eligible and care to sign up have the chance.

But as for able-bodied others, consider that it has been three-and-a-half years since the disaster. The vast majority of the 17,000 households receiving the subsidy in Louisiana had lived in Federal Emergency Management Administration manufactured housing parks until they were closed at the end of May of last year, so they have known about this deadline for the past nine months and had plenty of time to make preparations. Regardless of prior living arrangements, the deadline has been known by all for months and years.


The current money being plowed into the program (on top of the $2.7 billion FEMA spent on the trailers), if applied to a monthly house payment, taxes and insurance aside, in today’s low interest rate environment would permit purchase of a $129,000 house. At an average of $600 a household, a month, the year’s extension the state asks for will cost $122.4 million. It’s just not a wise use of public dollars and needs to be stopped as soon as possible.

The fact is, about 1,280 days is enough to have gotten on with your life, to have coped and used the incredible generosity of the American public to get yourself in a situation where you didn’t need subsidization any more. Some personal history: Katrina did not even come close to setting the 24-hour rainfall record in the U.S. My family survived that one (you can look it up). We were lucky compared to some with only two feet of water in the house; others were completely submerged. Nonetheless, much of the furniture and all of the carpet was lost. We had dehumidifiers running for months inside. For awhile I slept on the bare floor and then for months in the living room on the surviving fold-out sofa; of course my parents had the good sense to have flood insurance (even before our first flood; this was the second) but it took a long time for the money to come through. Through it all, we asked for and received not one cent of government assistance.

This story is not to minimize the suffering of Katrina victims, but to demonstrate that you have to get on with life. And if it takes stopping the flow of government money to prod some people into doing that, that’s what needs to happen, especially now that American taxpayers are about to be forced into almost $3,000 worth of debt on the shoulders of each man, woman, and child to fund a spending orgy that has little to do with any economic stimulus. It’s hard to blame anybody but themselves for those able-bodied in this situation except under the most unusual conditions if they have not planned on how to deal with it given so much lead time.

On behalf of the overburdened taxpayer, state government and elected officials need to let this go and concentrate their time and efforts on other aspects of the recovery process, including pointing people to cheaper housing alternatives even if out of state. Those impacted by the termination need to emulate the vast majority of Louisiana victims who have done the things to no longer need government assistance.

1 comment:

Punt said...

When you subsidize housing and place price rent controls you end up getting decreased demand by those living in those properties to seek better living. Conditions in these places continue to worsen. When you subsidize something you end up getting more of it.

The article says there isn't any affordable housing, that's bull. This nation has an abundance of affordable housing with the housing bubble collapse.

The resources of the state should go to something else.

I don't find it surprising that people are continuing to pickup the personal side of the this story as opposed to the economic one.

I do think this is on Obama's radar, he recently was quoted as saying that the past administration was

But, if he is going to start cutting the budget, which we all know is a joke, this would be a good start.

He'll find a way to throw this back in Jindal's face.

This issue is at the heart of liberal policies regarding housing, voting, and rent/housing price controls.