Under the Trump Administration, Housing for the Poor In This Country is Terrifyingly F*cked

Sometimes it’s helpful to look at the country as a tree. Not Jefferson’s tree of liberty — I’m not ready to pour the blood of tyrants onto the ground quite yet — but rather a tree where each branch is a different ideal. Racial equality, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights, things like that are the various branches of the tree that makes a just society. At the roots are some of the more basic issues — food, shelter, education. All of those things can sometimes feel like the roots of this great tree, and when they prosper, we prosper, and when we prosper, those branches grow more and more healthy. We often tell ourselves that with the right education, we can over time heal the damaged roots and thereby help the tree flower. Education leads to knowledge and knowledge, as they say, is power.

But I’m not here to talk about education. I’m here to talk about one of the other basics — shelter. Because one of the country’s more integral departments, one that affects millions of poor Americans, is under direct assault right now, and it’s happening in a fashion that we never saw coming. Perhaps one of the least glamorous sounding branches of the government is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and it’s because of that lack of glamour that this is happening somewhat under the radar. Sure, you’ve read about it — Ben Carson, an incompetent moron who somehow managed to earn a medical degree, is the new HUD Secretary. It’s been a national joke for several weeks now. But it’s important to realize just how much his appointment, and the subsequent actions of Carson, Trump, and HUD, are going to affect our future.

In short, if they maintain the course they’re on? We’re fucked. I mean shockingly fucked.

In the past week, two major news items have sprung up that could take us further down the road to the aforementioned fuckage. One, Lynne Patton is expected to be named the nominee to lead the New York regional HUD office. This is important for one simple reason — she’s a woefully unqualified toady, who is being appointed solely because she’s loyal. She is possibly even less qualified than Carson, which is saying something given that Carson’s only qualifications appear to be that he’s black, grew up poor, and will lick the boots of anyone who can give him access or power. Patton is a Trump loyalist who has absolutely zero housing experience, but has the good fortune of once working for Eric Trump’s foundation, and helped plan his wedding.

Let’s go over that again: a woman with zero housing experience, who helped Trump’s son plan his fucking wedding, is potentially the nominee to run the regional HUD office for one of the largest urban areas in the country. This is akin to me being nominated to run the EPA because I donated to Greenpeace. The only thing more bananas than this would be if someone like Rick Perry were named Energy Sec — oh, fuck.

Anyway, that’s part one of this fiasco. Part two has to do with Trump’s proposed budget, which, according to The Washington Post, calls for sharp cuts to housing assistance. Here’s the money quote:

President Trump’s budget calls for sharply reducing funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness — with a notable exception: It leaves intact a type of federal housing subsidy that is paid directly to private landlords.

One of those landlords is Trump himself, who earns millions of dollars each year as a part-owner of Starrett City, the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex. Trump’s 4 percent stake in the Brooklyn complex earned him at least $ 5 million between January of last year and April 15, according to his recent financial disclosure.

Now, that second paragraph is interesting, and once again results in one of the literal hundreds of conflicts of interest between Trump’s presidency and his business dealings. But don’t focus on it — it’s ultimately a misdirect that is going to take us away from the real issue. To be quite honest, I doubt that the fact that Trump’s building won’t suffer from these cuts even factored into the decision making process. This is a shot fired in a war that has been going on for years, only now it’s coming to fruition.

Here’s a bit of inside baseball to help us get to the heart of why this is such a massive problem:

There are two basic low-income housing programs in the United States: the Section 8 program, and the Public Housing program. There are dozens of sub-programs within those two very large umbrellas, and some states, like my own, also have their own smaller versions of each. But Section 8 and Low Income Public Housing (LIPH, to keep things shorter) are the two main ones. Section 8, also known as the Voucher program, has always been a darling of both sides of the political spectrum. Under this program, low-income families receive a subsidy that allows them to live in a regular, market-rent apartment for an income-based rent. Essentially, if you live in an apartment with a rent of $ 2000, you pay roughly 30% of your adjusted monthly income for rent, and whatever is left of that two grand is paid out by the government in subsidy. Sometimes, those apartments are designed specifically for low-income renters, but still owned privately. In fact, I work for one such development. It’s owned and managed by a private company, but serves specifically elderly and disabled persons who make less than 50% of the area median income. There’s a market rent attached to each apartment, but the residents never pay more than 30% of their income, and HUD picks up the balance. These are called «Project-Based» or «Multifamily» Section 8 developments. The other version is known as a mobile voucher, wherein you still have that voucher, but you can use it anywhere. Literally any apartment in the country (whose rent falls under a set amount based on region) becomes accessible to you — you still pay that 30%, the government still pays the rest. Chances are, if you’ve lived in low- to moderate-income apartments, you’ve likely has a neighbor who has benefited from this program.

The second, Public Housing, is a little different. This is housing that is government-owned and government-managed, usually via agencies called Housing Authorities. Every major (and most minor) city has a Housing Authority, which essentially takes HUD money and funnels it into the management of public housing. The public housing program is also what’s conventionally — and derogatorily — known as «the projects». Yeah, you’ve seen The Wire. Back in the day, they were usually high-rises, enabling us to cram a large number of very poor people into as small a space as possible. Build up, not out, was the philosophy, thus preventing poor people from taking over too much of the city’s landscape. Public housing is where the bulk of the low-income housing stigma comes from. Cities like Chicago and New York once had legendarily bad neighborhoods dotted with low-income housing developments, and they’ve always been easy political targets. People blame the projects for crime, for lack of education, for urban blight. But of course, just like shitty schools, shitty neighborhoods don’t exist in a vacuum — they happen because the money and resources to improve them do not exist. I’ve worked in low-income housing in a number of cities up and down the east coast, for going on 20 years now, and the one common thing is always money. The lack of money is why public housing suffers. And when the home you live in is shit, and the neighborhood you live in is shit, and the schools you go to are shit, guess what? You don’t have a lot of options ahead of you.

For decades now, the government has waged a mostly-silent war against low-income housing across the nation. The focus of that has always been public housing, and the Section 8 program has always been popular. It’s popular because there’s the appearance of independence — poor people are renting regular apartments! It’s also popular because it’s often the housing of choice for low-income seniors, one of the country’s more powerful voting blocks. It’s popular because it hides our poor within middle class neighborhoods, like thorns painted red. And frankly, it’s popular because it’s cheaper. Handing out slips of paper and telling you to go find an apartment is far less expensive than the brick-and-mortar funding necessary to build and manage public housing. Better to let private companies (yes, like mine) build them and pass the subsidy on to them. The thing is, though, that public housing serves a vital need. There aren’t enough companies like mine, willing to invest private dollars into low-income housing, even if it turns them a profit. There aren’t enough private landlords out there to take (or willing to take — there’s a fair amount of discrimination against voucher holders by landlords) vouchers for every low-income renter. But the government hates public housing, because it costs precious dollars that they could be spending on fucking fighter jets or bunker bombs or corporate bailouts.

So let’s bring this all back together. The GOP war on housing has been going on for decades. This time, it’s just that they’re firing higher caliber bullets. They’ve got the House, the Senate, and the presidency, so they’re coming after the programs they’ve always hated, and they’re doing it with venom. The housing programs that are under fire are going to suffer enormously, and it’s a program that is already under immense stress. Having managed public housing myself, I can tell you that it’s an often-impossible job, managing a building and the needs of your residents on the barest of funding. Managers of these buildings face terrible decisions daily — what can I fix now, what can I put off for next year in the hopes that we can afford it then and in the hopes that no one will get hurt. Cannibalizing parts out of broken appliances, faking their way through federal inspections, being forced to choose what potentially life-threatening problems we can maybe postpone fixing — these are all routine issues that happen because there’s no money. In the years before the Obama administration, the HUD budget for low-income housing was cut by 30%. That’s a staggering cut, and the idea that Trump is seriously considering cutting it further is terrifying.

Because there’s only one real goal to these cuts — to make the poor poorer. There is no other endgame. The developments will suffer, they’ll be forced to close down, driving the poor onto the streets in search of vouchers that won’t be there. The average Housing Authority waiting list right now is between three and five years. That’s three to five years before you might find safe, sustainable housing. Until then? Have fun sleeping at your friend’s house with your three kids, or in your car, or on the street. These are all stories I’ve heard. These are all people I’ve had to turn away because there just. isn’t. enough. help. And now we’re going to take even more of that help away. We’re going to overcrowd shelters, we’re going to flood cities with even more poverty. Which will affect schools (which are also probably going to lose funding). Which will drive up crime rates, drive up drug usage, drive down property values. Donald Trump once said «our inner cities are a disaster». That’s a goddamn lie. Our inner cities are places where, with the right care and money and attention, people could thrive and grow. Poor people could learn and break the cycle that’s been plaguing them for so many years. We could push money into better housing, better homes, better schools, better support systems.

But instead, we’re going to slash them to pieces. We’re going to increase drug usage so that we can increase incarceration rates. We’re going to decrease education, so we don’t know how to make the country better. This will adversely affect minorities, immigrants, poor families — all the groups that the GOP hates because they tend to vote against them. The story here isn’t Trump’s buildings or the buildings that will keep their funding — it’s the thousands of buildings and millions of people who will find themselves worse off than they’ve ever been. The story isn’t the story of Carson and Patton, two unqualified idiots suddenly charged with running a vast and vital bureaucracy — it’s the life-endangering decisions that such incompetence and cronyism will lead to. Our inner cities aren’t a disaster, but they sure as hell will be if we stay the course. We’re going to tear out the roots of the tree and watch as it falls, clucking tongues and wringing hands, blaming the poor for being poor and not pulling themselves up, while we shove our hands in our pockets when they reach out for help.


Give Your Old Workout Gear a Break With This Under Armour Sale

What better way to get ready for the better weather than discounted Under Armour Outlet gear? Take an extra 25% off practically every style you can think of, no code needed. From the classic Under Armour long-sleeves to training shoes to their Threadborne microthread technology, this gear is perfect for running…

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Actually, Trump Is NOT Under Investigation, His Lawyer Insists

A fun activity when following the ever-unraveling Trump administration is watching the president’s associates struggle to maintain their story lines despite their master’s tweets. Today, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow hit the Sunday morning talk show circuit to insist that Trump is not under investigation for obstruction…

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Trump Is Personally Under Investigation, Officials Report

Forget all the Russia stuff. The Comey firing itself has turned into a blunder of such epic proportions that Donald Trump is now under investigation for obstruction of justice, the Washington Post reports, citing anonymous officials. It’s hard to imagine what you could add to this blooper reel of an administration…I…

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President Trump Is Now Officially Under Criminal Investigation

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump is now officially under investigation by the special counsel Bob Mueller for obstruction of justice.

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

In other words, Trump wasn’t under investigation before he fired James Comey, but he got so mad at James Comey for not telling the world that he wasn’t under investigation that he terminated Comey’s employment, and now he is under investigation. Dummy.

A few details to note in the Post article:

— DNI Dan Coats, Head of the National Security Agency Admiral Rogers, and Rogers’ former deputy at the NSA, Richard Ledgett, have all agreed to testify next week. Ledgett retired in February after 40 years of service.

— According to sources, Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo were asked, like James Comey before them, to stay behind and talk to the President after others left the room. Trump reportedly asked them to intervene with Comey and the FBI investigation.

— Coats and Rogers also received a telephone call from Trump, who asked them to put the kibosh on the investigation. Richard Ledgett documented the call in a memo.

— Mueller is also investigating those outside of the government to find out what Trump told them about his reasons for firing Comey.

— There is more to this case than a «‘he said, he said’ dispute between the president and the fired FBI director.»

— Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz has responded, releasing a statement: «The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.» The Washington Post never says that the information came from the FBI. This statement, however, seems to confirm that Trump is, indeed, under investigation.

— Donald Trump, Jr. is hinting that Mueller should be fired for leaking information to the Post. There is no indication this information came from the Mueller.

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Sh*tty Publisher Throws His Sh*tty Writer Under the Bus After the Worst Possible Hot Take

If you run a site for 13 years, you’ll make some mistakes along the way. Sometimes, you write something and regret it the second after it goes up. Sometimes, you realize after the first or second comment that your entire thesis has been misinterpreted. Sometimes, breaking news arrives 20 minutes after a post goes up that transforms an innocent post into something it wasn’t designed to be.

There are other times when a writer posts something that’s plain bad or sure to generate a massive hellscape of emails and negative comments. Sometimes a post sneaks through while I’m away on a weekend or not around at night. Sometimes, I let something through that I shouldn’t.

I need not go into specifics, but these mistakes are made from time to time. It’s mostly a rarity these days because we’re more in tune with what is appropriate and what isn’t.

When you’re a publisher, however, what you don’t do is throw your writer under the bus. Delete the post? Sure. Apologize. Absolutely! Clarify, if possible. Remove the post before anyone notices and then answer emails from the 5 people who saw it before it went down? Definitely!

But don’t publicly shit on the writer. That’s just tacky. And shitty. And shut up, it’s your site, so barring a hack, anything that goes up is ultimately your responsibility.

To wit: Chris Spraggs of Barstool Sports, which I understand was already a worthless, shitty bro site, posted this:

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That is a bad take. A seriously bad take. Like, the worst bad take.

But we’ve occasionally written an inflammatory headline designed to enrage our readers only to calm them with the actual content. Nothing on that level, mind you, but we do love a good troll post.

But the text to that article? NOT BETTER.

With all the fat acceptance and «love me as I am» crowd, there’s definitely a world where I could see chicks see Rihanna make some strong «I don’t give a fuck I just love pizza» quote that goes viral and bam we’re in a world where all the hottest girls look like the humans in Wall-E. And just in time for summer too. A world of ladies shaped like the Hindenburg loaded into one-piece bathing suits may be on the horizon now that Rihanna is traipsing around out there looking like she’s in a sumo suit. It’s a dangerous precedent and you may want to start adjusting your porn browsing to primarily BBW porn to condition yourself to this dystopian future we now face.

Oh, man. How does anyone who has written for the Internet or read the Internet, ever, think that is an acceptable post to write on any site?

As an editor or a publisher, how do you deal with something that egregiously awful? I hope I never have to find out, but I think I’d probably delete the post immediately, remove all Tweets and FB posts, issue an apology if more than 6 people saw it, and pray to God that it blows over. Meanwhile, I’d have a conversation with the writer of that post and, if necessary, let the writer go and never speak of it again.

What you don’t do, however, is wait for the bus to come speeding by and toss the writer immediately under the wheels, as the founder of Barstrool Sports, Dave Portnoy, did in a blog post.

And truthfully the facts are there is a double standard at this company. If Big Cat or PFT or KFC or I write this blog I’ll defend it to the death. They have earned that trust and loyalty from me. I hired them because I think they are all legitimacy hilarious people. However as I’ve said many times Spags wasn’t originally hired to be a personality at Barstool. He should not be writing blogs that we as a company end up having to defend. And I’ve been doing this long enough to know that somewhere down the line this blog will be dug up again and used as an example of our extreme sexism. Frankly that’s not a hill I’m willing to die on. I’ll choose a different guy and a different blog to go to war for. Just like how the risk wasn’t worth the reward in writing this, the risk isn’t worth the reward defending it either. That’s called being a leader. I make the decisions nobody else has the stomach to make.

That’s not called «being a leader,» Dave. That’s called being an asshole. You’re pulling a Trump, and blaming everyone else but yourself. It’s your fucking website, dude. And if «Big Cat or PFT or KFC» had written that post, you shouldn’t be defending them, either, because it’s a shitty post and a shitty take no matter who the author is. But then Dave Portnoy — who has written that «a sleeping woman groped on a Delta flight was ‘begging’ for it and co-opted a quotation from the Holocaust memorial to argue that skinny jeans are ruining women’s asses» might not really understand the nature of «extreme sexism» in the first place.

via Deadspin


Trump’s Team Knew Micheal Flynn Was Under Investigation, But Gave Him the Job Anyway

Some news from what one can only hope is the beginning of an eventual end for the Trump presidency: former national security adviser Micheal Flynn told the Trump transition team that he was under investigation for secretly working as a foreign agent for Turkey “weeks” before the inauguration, but Donald Trump hired…

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