Work rules lead to positive results in public housing

Public Housing Should Have Work Rules, Too

Public Housing Should Have Work Rules, Too

By Howard Husock

City Journal

May 23, 2023

Thanks to the debt-ceiling showdown, Republicans appear to have a fighting chance to add a work requirement for those receiving SNAP (food stamp) and Medicaid benefits. They should also turn their attention to another major federal program that fosters dependency and discourages work: housing assistance. Local experiments across the country suggest that requiring those in public housing or getting housing vouchers to enter the labor market has positive effects, including upward mobility.

“Public and other assisted housing” is not a minor program. Housing vouchers are the largest item in the $73 billion Housing and Urban Development budget. At $30 billion, vouchers are almost twice as large an “outlay” as cash welfare ($16 billion), which has its own work requirement (though blue states have been finding ways around it.)

Unlike Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, housing benefits come with no time limit: about 32,000 New York City public-housing residents have lived in the projects for more than 40 years. What’s more, housing-benefit rules include a strong disincentive to work or raise earnings. Public and assisted-housing residents pay 30 percent of their income in rent—which means that, as their income rises, so does their rent. No private tenant would sign a lease like that, but it’s the rule for some of the poorest Americans.

By contrast, a handful of public-housing authorities—including Chicago and Atlanta, two of the nation’s biggest—have had work requirements for more than a decade. They’ve been among a small group of local public-housing agencies (39 of nearly 3,000) included in Moving to Work, a Clinton-era initiative.

The work-requirement experiment has been closely evaluated, including by the left-leaning Urban Institute. In Chicago, which exempted the elderly and disabled from the program and focused on public-housing residents rather than housing-voucher recipients, more than half of project residents (51 percent) had “no wage income” in 2010; by 2017, that proportion had declined to 38 percent. (Job training and other “good faith efforts” also satisfied the work requirement.) Average annual incomes rose from $11,568 in 2010 to $14,205 in 2015. Housing Authority staff interviewed for the report were enthusiastic, saying that, in their experience, “People want to do better. They want to work. They want money. They want to buy their children things.” The staff also noted that residents were not just working but, over time, getting better-paying jobs.

Work rules also resulted in higher rent payments, though that could also be seen as a negative, since it would be better for residents to keep more of what they earn.

Enforcement is serious. Residents looking to continue in assisted-housing programs must show pay stubs. Officials contact those known to be “noncompliant” weekly and offer help in finding work. Residents covered by the policy are given 90 days to comply or face the possibility of eviction (though that is unlikely).

The effects, by the standards of social science research, must be viewed as stunningly positive, as summarized in the bland language of the Urban Institute report:

The share of residents working more than 25 hours a week increased after the agency began enforcing its work requirement policy. The report found no increase in evictions and a modest increase in the rate of positive move outs because of gains in income attributed to compliance with the work requirement policy. A subsequent study that examined self-reported health and wellbeing outcomes found mixed effects associated with the agency’s work requirement policy; it found that residents wanted to work, and that increases in income decreased stress.

“Positive move outs” mean leaving the projects. Upward mobility means that those stuck on waiting lists may get a place—but be subject to the work requirement. This approach and others promise to change the culture of housing assistance.

Moving to Work has expanded from 39 housing authorities to 126. They will have good examples other than Chicago’s to emulate. In Atlanta, as I’ve written, high-rises were demolished and tenants were “vouchered-out” with a work requirement; labor-force participation rose from 18 percent to 62 percent. In San Bernadino, California, a five-year time limit has yielded strong results, according to an evaluation by Loma Linda University. Even without an explicit work requirement (though the city has begun to experiment with one), the imperative to prepare for an end to assistance led to a 26 percent increase in employment and a 145 percent increase in earned income after the five-year period. Education levels rose, too. All this will be news to Representative Pete Aguilar, who represents San Bernadino; the congressman had said that the work requirement for food stamps would “take food out of the mouths of kids.”

In insisting on linking work requirements to the social safety net, Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans are on to something—namely, that work requirements work.

Housing Crisis, To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

Biden Courts Another Mortgage Crisis

May 22, 2023 | Edward Pinto and Tobias Peter

The Biden administration is making moves that could imperil the safety of the housing finance system. Recent mortgage pricing changes, which have generally decreased fees for borrowers with lower credit scores and increased fees for those with higher scores, have rightly garnered public outcry, but they are the tip of the iceberg. The administration’s other changes require just as much attention, particularly since the reigning mantra of the White House is to strengthen “racial equity and support for underserved communities”—regardless of who gets hurt or how much it costs.

Missed in the debate about loan-level pricing changes is that the Federal Housing Finance Agency already distorts the riskiness of loans it originates, and ultimately taxpayers are on the hook for those loans. Every year the FHFA shuffles up to $6 billion from higher- to lower-quality borrowers. The recent changes are another progression in a series of steps under Director Sandra Thompson that have hollowed out the risk-based pricing structure erected after the 2008 financial crisis.

Progressives claim these rules need to be altered so those who have historically had a harder time breaking into the housing market can get a shot. This approach has backfired. The last great credit expansion, done with the goal of expanding homeownership in the runup to the 2008 crisis, left some 14 million borrowers, many of them minorities, seriously behind on their mortgages as home prices crashed by more than 25%.

Rather than equipping borrowers with more financial reserves and allowing them to build equity to withstand a decline in home prices, progressives are now trying to eliminate the risk of foreclosure altogether. Remove that threat and—at least in theory—everyone can afford a mortgage. Some argue that since borrowers would no longer default, we could safely expand credit.

To this end, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on March 29 that it’s making payment deferral available to all borrowers with “eligible hardships,” which it conveniently doesn’t define. Neither does it state how many times a borrower could take advantage of this option. While some argue that this policy worked well during the pandemic and prevented many foreclosures, it isn’t that simple. Borrowers who received forbearance also could have benefited from expanded unemployment coverage, the Paycheck Protection Program, student-loan payment waivers, other Covid benefits and the quick recovery from the economic contraction.

But it doesn’t stop there. Progressives want to eliminate the use of credit scores in mortgage underwriting or create a government credit repository. Some already have labeled credit scores racist. While these scores are predictive of defaults, they also represent an enormous hurdle to expanding credit to underserved communities, whose members typically have lower scores and thus require risk premiums. But a mortgage finance system without the threat of foreclosure or proper underwriting standards is ultimately an entitlement program. If such a program were established, it would be here to stay—and would most likely grow.

What progressives fail to understand is that access to credit isn’t the root cause holding back Americans, particularly those of color, from owning a home. Notwithstanding numerous attempts and enormous spending by the federal government, the black homeownership rate today is barely higher than in the 1970s. Instead, the U.S. is undersupplied by millions of homes, which makes buying a home more difficult. In addition, there are far-reaching shortcomings in educational outcomes, marital status and earnings that need to be addressed. These socioeconomic factors explain most of the gap in homeownership between black and white Americans.

The administration’s recent actions to expand homeownership to underserved communities are both flawed and reminiscent of similar failed efforts, particularly those made in the runup to the 2008 financial crisis. Remember when in 1994 Fannie Mae committed to “transforming the nation’s housing finance system to make it accessible to everyone”? To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

We must oppose this administration’s misguided progressive housing policies, which extend far beyond changes to mortgage pricing, and stop them before they do lasting harm.

Mr. Pinto is director and Mr. Peter assistant director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Housing Center.


Mass Shootings

Root Cause Failure Analysis, Mass shootings

May 2022


Root cause and failure analysis (RCFA) is the process for investigating the root cause of a failure in a product, process, or service and using the information to develop and implement a change to prevent recurrence of the failure.

Mass shootings needs RCFA, obviously.

The last couple of decades have seen a rapid increase in the frequency of these horrible events. Some blame guns, others blame mental health, others blame everyone on the other side of the aisle versus themselves.

I am not an expert. I am a gun owner who practices on a regular basis, former active-duty USMC, and a member of the NRA who carries a pistol with a concealed carry permit.

Some will stop reading. If you do, you are part of the problem. Others will look forward to what is coming and be angry. No matter. Give me a chance.

  1. The 60’s produced secular and social movements that in my mind began to undermine the foundation of civility and accountability for personal actions that allowed many other policies to be put in place to reduce the identification of folks who might do such things. Our society needed many of the changes produced in this era, but like all change many went too far.
    1. Family cohesiveness has been attacked and has been badly damaged. All the of the disturbed individuals who have done such horrific things come from unsettled, abusive, uncaring, etc. families. Government policies that encourage dependence outside of the family are part of the problem. Religion has always focused on family cohesiveness and accountability; secular movements have not replaced this focus.
    2. Partisanship and contempt for the other opinion prevents a moderation of views, compromise is now a dirty word-from both sides of the aisle politically. This seeps down into society; it is OK to treat others with contempt. Both sides use verbiage of conflict versus compromise.
    3. Abortion has set men free from any responsibility if sex produces a child. The woman is totally responsible. Child support from the man should start at conception, not birth. Single parents can do a wonderful job raising children, but statistically those children have a much harder time as adults.
  2. Guns don’t kill, people do. A common claim from many, and it is true. These shootings have occurred in states with very strict gun laws, and in those that don’t. So gun control isn’t the answer, it is however important.
    1. Parents who own guns that are used in committing a crime should be held liable for damages.
    2. Red flag laws should be in place to give someone who is concerned a path to report them to law enforcement.
    3. Anyone who carries a firearm must complete the same qualification and re-certification as law enforcement. This certification must be performed by licensed facilities, and they are required to report suspicious activity as a red flag.
    4. Gun dealers should be required to inquire as to what a firearm is going to be used for, or larger purchases of ammunition, an also report red flags.
    5. Private sales of firearms should be reported as gun dealers do. Maybe even perform the background check for a nominal fee.
    6. Automatic weapons should remain highly regulated.
    7. Banning all guns, as some propose, would create such civil unrest it is unimaginable in a free society.
  3. Mental health. An issue both sides of the aisle have avoided. This is obviously time to act. The move to stop institutionalizing people had some logic behind it. But we have gone too far. Look at the homeless issue we face, some say lock them all up, others say they have a right to defecate on a sidewalk. Surely both sides see the need to compromise.
    1. Resume commitment authority to the mental health professionals, fund it, and out-patient facilities; ensure meds are taken as prescribed, etc. If meds aren’t taken as prescribed, that is what institutions are for. They are certainly taken as prescribed while incarcerated.
    2. We have seen mass shooters released by mental health professionals just before they kill, how come? The professions need to look hard at their standards of care, discipline those who refuse to comply, ensure liability is assigned to whomever dropped the ball. Prosecute those who disobey the law-mental health professionals, prosecutors, defense attorneys, a legislature, congress.
    3. School counselors must have the direction to identify those kids who display many of the indicators seen in teens that kill, anti-social behavior-alienation-being bullied-etc.
    4. The wall street journal on 5/26/22 editorial on the Uvalde shooting, a quote, “..society may have to adapt by rethinking our hands-off attitudes to antisocial behavior and mental illness.”  I agree
    5. Stop placing the burden of mental health on law enforcement and incarceration. That is the only thing I agreed with during the recent “Defund the Police” B.S.
  4. Background checks. Well, we know that they always don’t work due to lack of sharing of information, or there is no prior issue with someone. They should be done.
  5. I am in favor of teachers who are qualified as law enforcement having weapons in the classroom.
  6. Hardening schools is closing the door after the horses are out, a determined killer will not be stopped by this. But, one well-armed guard, trained to handle these type situations could have prevented some of the past shootings.

We are dumbfounded as to why these things happen. We shouldn’t be, we are all guilty in a way. By allowing our partisanship and contempt to prevent compromise. Politicians are creatures of getting re-elected, we the citizens are the only ones that can cause change to happen by telling them to compromise.

RCFA is the way to fix a problem, so it truly goes away. Our societal and political cultures work against solving this problem. Sad.

Finally, a prayer for all those who grieve in times like this, the victims of senseless violence-not just those who seem to get media attention, but the many thousands killed in a year-and also for the perpetrators, whom we must also love, as God loves us.



Gerrymandering—Hypocrisy on both sides

Both sides of the political spectrum accuse the other side when redistricting comes up every ten years. Oregon gained a seat from the last census, too bad, but those are the facts.

In the 2020 election republicans got 42% of the vote. With another seat under the new redistricting they are expected to win one seat. A supposedly “non-partisan” committee came up with the new districts. The Princeton gerrymandering project run by academics gave Oregon an “F”. Considering that university professors are 80% self identified as progressives, and Princeton is in the headlines limiting speech, this is a bullet to the heart. Or it should be.

Yet. Marc Elias who has stated , “We are prepared and ready to use every legal tool available to make sure that new maps do not unfairly treat voters.” Unless they are republican it seems as he has signed off on the Oregon results.

Mr. Elias’ law firm and Parker Cole (The law firm whose lawyer was just indicted for lying to the FBI during the Trump election) said the republicans weren’t cooperative, as if that justified the result. I am sure if the tables were turned both law firms would be on the warpath, suing everyone in sight. What happened to we should honor the popular vote?

What a bunch of smelly horse hockey. Another state I will never spend any money in.

Afghanistan, Should we have stayed?

The administration is lying about how well the retreat from Afghanistan went, David Petraeus commented that we should have stayed in the current deployed level, around 2500 folks plus contractors, to provide air support. The comments from the MSM that the Army ran away is accurate, the reason being they knew without air support the encroachment of the Taliban could not be stopped. I would have left too.

We stayed too long in a dysfunctional state. By doing so we created a growing obligation to assist those that helped us. I am 74, was an active duty marine from 1970 to 1976. When we negotiated with the communists we promised RSVN funds to continue their fight. Shortly after the treaty signing the democrat majority congress cut off all funds. Shameful. I was sure this kind of treachery would be learned from, but in my life we have shamed ourselves again, again the democrats-mostly.

I read today the Taliban beheaded a female soccer player this week. The consequences of a poorly thought out policy. Secretary Austin should have resigned once told to do what we did. He knew what the results would be.

Sept 24, 21 Fair Share, Tax The Rich

Let’s just tax the rich say the progressives. No one making less than $400,000 a year will see an increase in taxes. This bill costs zero!

  1. The Tax Foundation says 21% of smokers earn less that $35,000 a year, the new excise tax on tobacco burden the lowest income earners 37 times as much as equivalent funds raised through income taxes. They also say as corporations pay more tax, they hire less, lower wage increases, reduce benefits. Teh middle class may not have a higher tax rate but their costs to live will go up.
  2. “Fair Share” What the hell does that mean. 50% of the population pay NO income tax, ZERO. The myth that countries like Finland are the model neglects to point out their income and social security taxes are the same as or higher than ours. Most people pay taxes versus our current arrangement. The US has the most progressive tax system of the OECD countries.
  3. Zero? Depending on who you listen to the taxes raised don’t come close to covering the 5.5 trillion, not even close to 3.5 trillion. Does raising taxes affect the economy? Well sure they do, JFK began lowering taxes in the 60’s and the economy started a 50 year increased growth rate. When the economy doesn’t grow well, think of the EU versus the US, wages don’t go up, promotions are limited, investment is lower, new company creation is lower. How many times must we see countries who think government control is better than private enterprise fail to provide the citizen with a way out of poverty.

The progressives are lying to us. They want something for nothing and the power to control our lives, telling us what is good for us. Are there some good ideas in the bill, yes. Putting all the cost on the feds only grows the ineffective bureaucracy, we want more of the failed federal government control?  More uncontrolled borders? More waste?

Sept 23, 21 Workfare

The 3.5 trillion, or actually 5.5 trillion if if all programs are scored as continuing for 10 years, have many flaws. One of the main ones for me is the lack of connection to working, meaning you get money whether you work or not.

There are some folks not able to work. They deserve our assistance and compassion. We have seen what happens when the other folks get money from the government without the requirement to support themselves. As the economy has opened, businesses across the country are not able to hire workers, the monetary incentive to stay home is too high.

Some say everyone deserves a UBI. But if the UBI keeps folks at home, not contributing in whatever way they can, then the economy doesn’t grow fast enough to accommodate population increases from births and immigration. Thus, the old problem of spending other peoples’ money hits us, the money runs out.

Modern monetary theory says we can borrow as much as we want without consequences. I love theories. Unfortunately most go the way of the flat earth theory, no proof. History is filled with examples of economic theories that fail, sentencing the bulk of those upon whom they were enacted to penury, loss of freedom, etc. Except for the theorists, they seem to come out all right.

An example, Burlington College, run by Bernie Sanders wife. She had a great theory on how to breath life into the college. Well, her theory killed it.

Susan Collins, the senator from Maine commented on the 5.5 trillion bill as not containing work requirements in a recent speech to the senate. The Democrats targeted her in the 2020 election to be defeated, spent tons of money and failed, the people of Maine felt she represented their views and resisted the effort. They were characterized with invectives similar to those our last president was criticized for by the progressives, hypocrites, uh yeah.

This is only one issue with this monstrosity coming from the progressives.


Sep 22, 21 John Durham, Press Coverage

John Durham just indicted Mr. Sussman, a lawyer with the law firm closely associated with the HRC campaign for lying to the FBI. He represented himself as a concerned citizen exposing the link between the Trump campaign and a Russian bank. What he didn’t do is tell the FBI he was an integral part of the HRC organization.

We have seen light starting to come to the alleged effort to attach Trump to the Russians as false. Already an FBI lawyer has pleaded guilty to changing a document before the FISA court to allow Carter Page to be surveilled. What he deleted would have disallowed that surveillance.

We know the MSM gobbled all this up with gracious enthusiasm and filled the airwaves with little or no investigation.

I watch both CNN and Fox, CNN has mentioned the indictment, but only mentioned. I wish I had a way of seeing how much time both networks spent talking about John Durham’s investigation.

By the way, I can’t stand Trump as a person. I did agree with about 60% of his policies.



Oct 3, 21. Hearings on Afghanistan and other issues


I had a chance to watch about three hours of the hearings in both houses of Congress, and then watched the highlights over the next couple of days.

  1. Biden lied, people died. “I was never told we should leave military folks in Afghanistan.” Either he lied, or his memory of such an important piece of advice was forgotten, if forgotten that may be even more scary. All three witnesses verified the advice was passed on.
  2. Whether we should have been there for 20 years is a good question, but since we were there we have an obligation to protect those before we leave. We were holding the Taliban with our air support. Many leaders, including this one and the past two presidents, put deadlines in writing. Stupid move. Hopefully we have learned something the time around.
  3. Biden lied, people died. “We will stay until all are out.” Guess not.
  4. Milley overstepped his license by talking with the authors. My experience in  the military, even as a lowly captain in the marines, was never to offer opinions about politics, even within my unit. Secretary of defense Mattis said in his book he would never give opinions about a sitting president. He resigned over a matter of principal, a a disagreement with Trump over Syrian policy. Milley should have resigned; he said resigning is a political move, that is correct, it is. But, if he really felt lives were at risk, as well as the strategic safety of the country, he should have. If he had maybe Biden would have changed his mind. I read a piece in the “Daily Signal” about Milley in which the following deserved requoting.” In December 2018, Trump nominated Milley, previously chief of staff for the Army, for the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the advice of his defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, and the incumbent chairman, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.” Disregarding advice due to arrogance and self absorption is a common ailment.
  5. HR McMaster wrote a book when he was a colonel, “Dereliction of Duty” that highlights the lack of principle generals during Vietnam were unwilling to challenge the directions from the commander in chief. They knew body counts were wrong. They refused to listen to those in field who told the truth about our strategies. Groundhog Day!

I am disheartened that lessons taught were forgotten. I am ashamed we left so many behind. I am angry that the offer from the Taliban to provide security for all of Kabul was declined. I am bewildered that our airbase just north of Kabul was abandoned, it was so much easier to defend.

I thought at 74 we were passed this. Secretary Gates’ was prescient when he commented on how many times Biden got foreign  policy wrong.



Sept 20, 21 Hypocrisy of Tax the Rich

The $3.5 Trillion bill before Congress if full of well intentioned ideas (most not affordable or ensure if able, work), and a few weird ones. All the talk about “Tax the Rich” on AOC’s butt is silly, considering the dress is unaffordable by 99.9% of all women. How about a dress from Kohl’s instead.

Anyway, one of the demands is the elimination of the state and local taxes deduction proposed by those high state tax states. According to the Tax Policy Center, 57% of the benefits will go to the top 1% of earners. The average benefit to them is $35,000, the average to the rest of the beneficiaries is $37. (per editorial in WSJ 9/21/21).

I live in Alabama. As I resent those who say “I do not want to get a vaccine, it is my liberty.” It is your right, however, you impose your stupidity on me since my medical costs go up. Same thing with not wearing a helmet while motorcycling.

I do not want to subsidize high state taxes. Keep the SALT deduction limitation in place.

I love to see politicians squirm, on both sides, when they don’t want to compromise, or love their neighbor.