It’s been a while since I suggested scrapping a whole cabinet level department. Yeah we got rid of Agriculture (which is a no brainer) and all but destroyed the Department of Education until its job could be done out of one single floor of offices. But now it’s time to destroy the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Why? Because it’s an utterly useless department whose functions are on shaky Constitutional grounds at the federal level and its actions are clearly more of a state’s rights issue.
Now first off I will state that I do believe that some form of low income housing and homeless shelters do need to be provided by local, county and if necessary state government. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t believe in these institutions. I have in the past referenced the book “Scratch Beginnings” by Adam Shepard which details how he disproves the idea of the liberal BS in “Nickel and Dimed” that you actually can work your way up from nothing in this country and into the middle class with only determination, drive and a work ethic. He does just that in only a few months. But, I will admit as he started with nothing he did stay at homeless shelters for a while and probably would have had a much harder time if he had not had that safety net in place. But this should be done by local governments and not federal. So let me discuss first why the federal department needs to be scrapped and then go over what state and local governments need to put in place.
First, I find nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the right to deal with public housing. But then again most Departments of the federal government don’t have a Constitutional justification for existing. It grew out of FDR’s many unconstitutional programs that got to live only because FDR was a tyrant and bully (it’s sad there is no hell, because he does deserve to burn there) who threatened to stack the Supreme Court which was about to tell FDR 99.9% of his policies were unconstitutional. What a shock it hasn’t gained any constitutional basis sense then.
But let’s deal with the pragmatics of the department. The 2011 budget for HUD was 43 Billion Dollars. (They’ve been around for 46 years as a cabinet level department so one has to wonder how many billions, trillions they’ve wasted over that period of time).
So, what do we get for our money?
We get the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). If that sounds familiar it should. These are the people who regulate and oversee those quasi-private companies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You know the companies who back all those sub-prime loans that helped tank the economy. Thank you FHA for being a leading factor in this depressed economy. Pink slips for everyone at FHA, Fannie and Freddie would be generous and merciful (prison sentences might be more just). So how about we scrap all of this and stop ruining the economy.
We get the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Administration. That sounds nice doesn’t it? A federal government agency to make sure that discrimination isn’t going on. Can’t quite see how this isn’t more of a state issue, but that’s not the biggest problem. These are the people who forced banks to make all those subprime loans that helped to ruin the economy. Yeah, I really want to keep these asses around.
We get the agency for Policy Development and Research…which apparently didn’t do enough research to know that what FHA and FHEOA were doing would destroy the economy and cause a major credit failure. I so want to continue paying for high quality research like that.
We get the Department of Community Planning and Development. These are the people who build low income housing. You know that program that helps to institute the feeling of helplessness and dependence on the government. Oh, and did you know that if someone who is getting low income housing will not be eligible for low income housing if they become a full time student—because we wouldn’t want to encourage people who are poor to improve themselves and, oh I don’t know, get the skills needed to get a job and no longer need low income housing. No. We need to only help those who want to stay helpless. Screw those who want to improve themselves. Not to mention that low income housing is often better on square-footage than what some of us pay in our apartments. Or the fact that those buildings, while being some of the biggest eyesores in the history of architecture need to usually be torn down every 20 years or so because the occupants treat them so poorly (why not, it’s not like they have any personal investment in it). Why do the tenants treat them so poorly, because they’ve had to do just about nothing to get them. Then you have to rebuild all the buildings, at the high cost of building laid off on taxpayers. All the while actually encouraging all the traits that keep people impoverished. I feel this could be done in a million better ways, just never by the Feds.
Public and Indian Housing Rental assistance…yes because we still need to treat the Indians as if they were children. Yeah we can scrap this.
Government National Mortgage Association Can’t pay your mortgage? Were you an idiot and took out too much in loans? Don’t worry. We’re going to take money from people who can actually keep a budget and pay their mortgage and give it to an idiot like you…our goal is so that no one will be able to pay their mortgage and everyone will be dependent on the government.
Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. Really? Is lead paint still a big issue? And are the states incapable of doing this? I doubt it.
Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing. This Clinton era creation is about as dumb as it sounds. According to their website they have “improved the development, dissemination, and use of new housing technologies.” Raise your hand if you believe government can spot good deals and coming technologies better than the private sector. Yeah didn’t think so. (You, in the back, yeah you who raised your hand…you’re an idiot.)
There is no reason to keep this federal department. None. None whatsoever.
Now I do believe cities and counties need to provide homeless shelters and low income housing, which will at most include block grants from state funding. No federal money should be involved. Federal money just means red tape, inefficiency and waste. Cities, counties and states are all you need for this.
Now, while homeless shelters and low income housing need to be provided states should correct some of the mistakes made by federal programs. The first is drug testing. If you’re poor and need this kind of housing you shouldn’t be able to afford drugs, alcohol or even nicotine. If you can afford those things, I guess you have enough money to pay your own way. So drug testing of those who are living on our, the tax payers dime. Don’t like it, leave! If we’re paying for the rent you will live under our rules…think that sounds a bit too much like a parent…well if you don’t want to be treated like a child, grow up, get a job and pay your own rent. Next I’m going to encourage the practices that lead to being constantly out of work, underemployed, or homeless. This means states need to put screening programs at their homeless shelters to identify those people who are mentally incapable of taking care of themselves and change the laws to allow for involuntary commitment of people who are not mentally stable. A good portion of the homeless suffer from schizophrenia or other debilitating mental illnesses. I’m willing to put some tax dollars to committing them to institutions, we just need to change the laws to do so. It’s better for them, in that they won’t be on the streets, and it’s better for the rest of us in the amount of crimes this group commits (though they are not to blame for those crimes, their illness and our indifference is). Next if you’re going to stay at a shelter it shouldn’t be that you’re punished for taking college courses it should be that you are required to take trade school, high school, GED, or community college courses. You’re on our dime; then you will improve yourself and put yourself in a position to not be on our dime. And again, I’m willing to put up some state or local money to those programs. Job trainings, public housing, welfare, and unemployment offices should not be three separate departments, they should be one in the same all with the specific purpose of getting people out as soon as possible. Also since there are personal requirements, people will feel they are not just being given something and thus will treat the building better, thus we won’t have to replace them as often (just think how much not having to build a new building will save us).
Further the advantage of making these more local allows for less red tape and more experimentation to find new ways to make the system more effective. Local programs adapt better. Local programs are run by people who see the effect of their choices and thus care far more about their effectiveness than some bureaucrat in D.C.
Also, if we weren’t wasting 43 Billion a year (that’s about $143 per person in the US, ignoring that we’re not all paying the same amount to the Feds…some of us are paying a lot more) then you figure that states will be a little more efficient because there is less red tape and fewer stupid federal rules and levels to deal with (so maybe it will only cost about $71 per person)…that and with more money in our pocket, Americans being very generous will give more to private charities. Some of those private charities will have their own assistance programs that will always be more effective than what government puts up. All of this will mean that there will be fewer people on the dole, which means that the economy might just go up…the long term feedback effect of this becomes obvious.
In the end HUD needs to be put on a five year plan for disbandment. The holdings sold or just given to the states to manage and the entire system sent to local governments to administer.