Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
As part of its endless quest to fundamentally transform the United States, the Obama administration is laying the intellectual groundwork for a massive new government program: moving crime-prone tenants of public housing into middle- and upper middle-class neighborhoods in the name of improving their health.
Last Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine published a multi-year study conducted on behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) researching the impact of “housing mobility” on the health of those in public housing. The project, which tracked 4,500 “very low-income” families, found that allowing the poor to move from the projects to “low-poverty neighborhoods” decreased the incidence of both disorders and improved the families’ overall health.
Upon hearing the results, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan lamented, “Far too often we can predict a family’s overall health, even their life expectancy, by knowing their zip code.” Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) chimed in, “where you live can be critical to your health.”
For an administration obsessed with Nanny State health initiatives, increased welfare spending, and waging war on the affluent, the next step is not hard to anticipate. President Obama has already requested $28.6 billion for Section 8 housing vouchers in Fiscal Year 2012, fully 60 percent of HUD’s budget. Rather than spend $400 million combating inner-city “food deserts” (areas in which the average resident must drive 4.5 minutes longer to get to a supermarket than the average American), why not just move the welfare-dependent Uptown? Such a policy would achieve the dual left-wing aims of redistributing wealth from the productive to the indolent (core Republican and Democratic constituencies, respectively) and forcefully integrating well-to-do neighborhoods.
It would also expand crime, bring gangland violence into peacefully under-policed suburbs, deteriorate public safety, and increase the resentment of those whose taxes make these destructive moves possible.
Taxpayers are understandably outraged when they see welfare recipients living well on the public dime as stagnant wages trap them in underwater mortgages. As long ago as 1980, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) wrote, “The high rents and quality of [Section 8] housing invite resentment on the part of the taxpaying public who see their subsidized neighbors living in better accommodations than they themselves can afford.” The Palm Beach Post reports, “The monthly rent subsidy for local [Florida] homes is as high as $2,109 for a five-bedroom, three-bathroom home in a suburban Lake Worth gated community.” One such recipient on the opposite coast, a “Judy Doe,” confessed she rode her rental voucher out of….