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Once upon a time, in government bureaucrat-speak, “Section 8” referred to the kind of discharge from military service that applied specifically to individuals who were judged to be too mentally unfit to continue serving.
Today however, when the term “Section 8” is thrown around, it typically refers a welfare program run through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides subsidies for rent to low-income earning individuals, and often in popular usage, to any government housing assistance program that supports disadvantaged individuals, such as those with disabilities.
Unfortunately, there now appears to be a convergence developing between the old and modern use of the term “Section 8”, where HUD’s administrators and lawyers have embarked on a new policy that really brings their mental fitness into question. From the pages of the 2013 Wastebook:
After spending $2.6 million on needed apartments for the deaf, government lawyers now say the Tempe, Arizona based Apache ASL Trails (Apache) apartment facility violates the law because it has too many deaf residents. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the apartment facility does not do enough to also attract non-deaf residents. However, HUD funded this award winning project “knowing” the property was designed and built “for seniors who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind.”
About eight years ago, a federal study found that deaf and hard of hearing persons face pervasive discrimination in the rental housing market. So projects like the 75-unit apartment, designed specifically for the deaf started to be funded and built. The Tempe, Arizona building is highly successful. According to reports, more than 85 percent of the units are occupied by deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing tenants. Currently there is a long waiting list.
Faced with such apparent success in this single project, HUD’s administrators and legal staff became determined to right other perceived social wrongs, as only they would appear to perceive them:
HUD is now threatening to pull all Arizona housing aid unless the managers of Apache reduce the number of deaf residents to no more than 18 of the complex’s 75 apartments or 25 percent of the available units. The National Association for the Deaf has described these actions as unprecedented, saying “There is no statute or regulation that mandates any such 25 percent quota, and the imposition of any such quota is an ideological principle that ignores the reality of housing needs for many people with disabilities including deaf and hard of hearing individuals.”
This action will likely not be an isolated incident. HUD’s leadership is acting to use the federal government’s housing resources to redistribute where people live within the United States in pursuit of the goal of achieving social justice and equality, by the arbitrary diversity standards they set.
To ensure that “every American is able to choose to live in a community they feel proud of,” HUD has published a new fair-housing regulation intended to give people access to better neighborhoods than the ones they currently live in.
The goal is to help communities understand “fair housing barriers” and “establish clear goals” for “improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation.”
“This proposed rule represents a 21st century approach to fair housing, a step forward to ensuring that every American is able to choose to live in a community they feel proud of – where they have a fair shot at reaching their full potential in life,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan….
Under the proposed rule, the neighborhood data provided by HUD will be used to evaluate patterns of integration and segregation, racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty, and access to “valuable community assets.” HUD wants to know if existing laws and policies — such as zoning, financing, infrastructure planning and transportation — create, perpetuate or alleviate segregation.
That thinking has now reached the crazy extreme where even a single housing facility built to accommodate the specific disabilities and needs of people who have eagerly sought to live in it has come to represent the creation and perpetuation of segregation that must be alleviated at any cost. In the eyes of HUD’s administrators, that facility would now appear to represent such an intolerable level of inequality that the residents themselves must be redistributed in order to achieve the government bureaucrats’ perception of social justice and equality.
There’s a cost for that kind of insanity, both personal and financial. The 2013 Wastebook provides the final word:
Apache residents say living at facility has positively transformed their lives and that they would be devastated if this housing were not available. One resident in sign language told a reporter that “I would be devastated. I would cry. I want to stay here, we need this place.”
Bernie Horwitz, A 73-year old Apache tenant, told Arizona Family in 2012, “I get the sense HUD is almost coming in here saying they want to get rid of deaf people.” A bipartisan coalition of members of the Arizona Congressional Delegation is leading efforts to resolve this matter in a manner that protects the current residents of Apache and the purpose for which the building was built.
HUD officials claim to have no plans to kick any of the tenants out, but their proposed actions will deny this type of supportive housing to future residents who need and would benefit from the accessibility features of the building. Also, the $1.2 million cost of retrofitting the apartments for deaf residents will have been wasted.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development