Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The "Affordable Housing" Scam

It has been said that every great cause becomes a business, which becomes a scam. Stacy McCain details how "affordable housing" has made the progression: ‘Peak Hipster’ in San Francisco
“Affordable housing” is one of those phrases, like “social justice” and “sexual equality,” that sounds like a good thing, until you realize it’s a license for totalitarianism. For most of us, “affordable housing” means living someplace where we can afford the rent. The advocates of “affordable housing,” however, always want to live someplace we couldn’t afford to live — a trendy urban location — and demand a system of taxpayer subsidies and/or burdensome regulations to force others to allow them to live in a high-rent community at below-market rates. To put it as simply as possible, they’re moochers and “affordable housing” is about protecting their right to mooch.

The enemy of affordable housing is “gentrification,” which is what happens when people with actual jobs who can afford to pay rent at market value start moving into a trendy urban location where the moochers live. Regular Right Guy calls our attention to the gentrification crisis in San Francisco:
On a sunny Monday afternoon in early March, tenants from Station 40, an affordable housing complex in San Francisco’s rapidly gentrifying Mission District, joined with activists from the Housing Rights Committee and Anti-Eviction Mapping Project to hold a press conference condemning one of the latest evictions happening in the city. In late February, Station 40 tenants were slapped with an eviction notice from their landlords, Ahuva, Emanuel and Barak Jolish.
. . .
“Station 40 has been home to anarchist, queer and transgender refugees, broke people, veterans against war, those healing from the prison system, lifelong San Franciscans, immigrants, people with disabilities, and those who were previously homeless,” according to the groups’ press statement. Station 40 has also “hosted and/or organized hundreds of anticapitalist-oriented events, including fund-raiser, critical discussions, film screenings and performances, assemblies, book releases, art shows and workshops, and indie media projects, contributing to the rebel spirit of the Bay Area.”
Gosh, we’re sorry to hear about the end of your anti-police/anti-capitalist “anarchist, queer and transgender” scene, hipsters.

Megan McArdle explains Gentrification Is an Irresistible Force
Ah, gentrification. What’s not to hate? Except for sit-down restaurants, dog parks, charming pubs, bike lanes ... and there goes the neighborhood. Yesterday, we talked about the inherent irony of gentrification: the fact that gentrification is simultaneously driven and abhorred by nice young progressives who just want to live in a walkable neighborhood. We also discussed why so many of the ideas proposed to stop it -- from inclusionary zoning to tougher rent control -- have so far proven powerless against the March of the Affluent.
Read the rest, but it all boils down to a free market. People who can afford to would like to live in a nice clean, crime free neighborhood, and they have the money to see to it both from a cost and political perspective.

And she explains Why Gentrification Matters
Nonetheless, we should recognize that for many people, gentrification can be a sort of personal disaster. Why? Because when you don't have much money, you rely heavily on another sort of capital: social capital.

Interested readers can listen to me expand upon this in my American Enterprise Institute vision talk, but here's the nutshell version: Navigating poverty successfully requires people to tap into extended networks that operate something like the "reciprocal altruism" networks of hunter-gatherers. You're in trouble, and I help you out, which means that when I am in trouble, you have an obligation to help me out. All humans do this to some extent, of course. But affluent people in modern societies don't need to rely on these networks so heavily, because they have cash and savings. If your car breaks down, you pay a repair shop instead of tapping your network to find someone who knows how to fix the problem. As I discuss in my talks, these networks can be remarkably resilient ways to handle the challenges of poverty, but they can also create barriers to getting out of poverty.
True enough, but some of what keeps people trapped in poverty is the "comfort" of it, the reliable government assistance (which comes whether you go to work on time or not) and the equally reliable friends who help you out, and in the same breathe, help hold you in. What many poor need is a reason to get out, and cut the umbilical ties of poverty.

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