I am no big fan of Section 8 housing. On the one hand, I am happy that a young child doesn't have to live on the street. On the other hand, I don't want them all living next door to me.
Don't get your knickers in a bunch like I said something horrible - or worse - elitist. I'm not going all Uppity-Barack-Obama, as Republicans have accused him. But I haven't met a single person who was happy to have Section 8 neighbors.... not even the other Section 8 folks in the neighborhood. And if you're a Section 8 recipient, and you feel offended, do me a favor: Take an assessment of how well your kids are doing in school, how much trouble they cause in the neighborhood, and how much curb appeal your property lost or gained during your tenancy. If your assessment goes well, trust this blog post doesn't apply to you and curb your offense.
While I'm sure there are perfectly good and upstanding Section 8 recipients living somewhere in the United States, who somehow live in such a way that property values rise around them, I haven't had the fortune of meeting them. In fact, if you're a regular reader, you know exactly how owning a home surrounded by Section 8 has treated me. And I ain't smiling.
I'm sure you've heard the psychology-speak about price and value. For the most part, humans perceive greater value when something is expensive. The same is true in reverse... free and cheap things are perceived (and treated) as throw-aways. In some studies, the exact same product is presented with a different price. And guess how the item was perceived in each scenario? You feel me...
In other words, when you aren't required to fork over a lot of money for something, you won't treat it with the same respect. That notion is often applied to the Section 8 reputation. The recipients simply aren't investing as much as other renters and certainly don't own any piece of the property. May as well be a cheap hotel room.
Well the housing foreclosure crisis and Section 8 collided in Antioch, California, and the Antioch residents are none-too-happy. And while I don't appreciate the color-line drawn by this article (because my Section 8 neighbors span the color wheel), I do see the foundation of the crisis brewing in Antioch. From the New York Times article titled "As Program Moves Poor to Suburbs, Tensions Follow":
Under the Section 8 federal housing voucher program, thousands of poor, urban and often African-American residents have left hardscrabble neighborhoods in the nation’s largest cities and resettled in the suburbs.
Law enforcement experts and housing researchers argue that rising crime rates follow Section 8 recipients to their new homes, while other experts discount any direct link. But there is little doubt that cultural shock waves have followed the migration. Social and racial tensions between newcomers and their neighbors have increased, forcing suburban communities like Antioch to re-evaluate their civic identities along with their methods of dealing with the new residents.
The foreclosure crisis gnawing away at overbuilt suburbs has accelerated that migration, and the problems. Antioch is one of many suburbs in the midst of a full-blown mortgage meltdown that has seen property owners seeking out low-income renters to fill vacant homes. The most recent Contra Costa County records available show that from 2003 to 2005, the number of Section 8 households in Antioch grew by 50 percent, to about 1,500 from 1,000. Many new residents are African-American; Antioch’s black population has grown to about 20 percent, from 3 percent in 1990.
The article goes on to describe more of the color-clash, and how Black citizens have sued the local police for expanding the "driving while Black" mentality to the "renting while Black" assault. And while I don't subscribe to the underlying racism that peppers Antioch's latest woe, I share a deep understanding about what it's like to get squeezed by Section 8, watching your own property value melt into the ground, and wondering why your neighbors are getting more rude, more lazy, and seem to think garbage is an attractive lawn decoration. ::sigh::