Texas Stampede–For Housing

I’m pretty certain that most folks from the Volunteer State are quite glad that Dallas is not in Tennessee–no matter what the songwriter might have said:

Before the sun came out Thursday morning, thousands of people had gathered around the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex in the Red Bird area.

The reward: a spot on a waiting list for Dallas County housing vouchers to help them pay the rent.

When, at 6 a.m., officials said it was time to form a line, a frantic rush ensued — the latest sign of people’s desperation for help in tough times. There were no serious injuries, but video footage of the chaos received national attention.

Desperation, or a desire to get something for just about nothing?

If one takes the time to read through all of the stories, one gets the requisite hardship stories–though what is unsaid is often damning. Take this one:

Tashia Moss of Richardson has a job as a home health worker — but it does not provide enough to cover basic expenses.

“I work; I just don’t make enough money,” said the 32-year-old, who is trying to support two teenagers.

Teenagers are not able to help support themselves? And, does the lady not make enough money, or has she made lifestyle choices whereby she does not spend little enough money?

Then, there is this little kernel of logic:

Zachary Thompson, the county’s director of health and human services, said the turnout once again demonstrates the need for the Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8. By the end of the day, about 5,000 households had applied. Applicants for the housing vouchers are not required to live in Dallas County.

So, if I announce free tickets to the SuperBowl and thousands of people show up, the turnout demonstrates the need for free SuperBowl tickets? C’mon, people, use a little sense here.

Since one of these vouchers allows the holder to pay 30% of the family’s annual adjusted gross income, the savings (aka taxpayer funds) which are available to those who hold the vouchers can be thousands of dollars per year. And, the holder’s families have a vested interest in ensuring that no one earns too much (see the bit about teenagers working/not working) because that would raise the rent.

Please do understand that I realize there are people with real needs whom some of these vouchers help. I am objecting to the process, the principle and the underlying logic behind this program. Where are the families and churches who have a responsibility to care for those who are truly unable to care for themselves? And where is the understanding that being poor does not absolve one of basic responsibilities?

3 thoughts on “Texas Stampede–For Housing

  1. Thirty-two. Two teenagers. That means the kids have to be at least 13. If she had twins, then she was 19 when they were born. If they’re not twins, then she was having her first baby at 18.

    Now, that’s all legal and such, but where’s the father? Why isn’t he providing child support? Or is he dead? And what’s the likelihood of them being just 13 and 14 years old? The kids might not be able to find a job – illegals are cheaper and less paperwork, so that’s not surprising, but what about parents? Grandparents? I got help when I was in school and newly married, too – from family. Why is government taking this role of “parent-in-chief”?

    Mercy is a legiitmate thing, and I’m all for it – none of us wants to pay full price for our mistakes. But if she’s working full time as home health care, then she should be able to make do – smallish apartment, Goodwill/Salvation Army clothes, third-hand car. With care, it can be done. Teenagers might not have an x-box, probably no cable and a single pre-pay cell phone, but that’s OK. They’ll have food, clothing and shelter.

    1. UPDATE: See here – http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/07/poverty-american-style.php

      “In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning…two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children…in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox… In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

      The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair… The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.”

    2. You’ve pointed out a number of issues which point to this: government is no longer a last resort for those who do not have as much as they think they should. Instead, it has become a first resort–in many cases even coming before a job.

      I doubt the lady in question had tapped out her other options (family, church, etc) before going for the relatively easy government largess. And she was only one of thousands. I wonder how many had stories which would have brought up similar issues?

      Thanks for the PowerLine link. I had read that and wondered just a bit about how the definition of poor has changed since I was a child. I would wager that most of the would would like to be as poor as we are. The following quote from that link nails it “I am reminded of Dinesh D’Souza’s anecdote about a friend from India who told him that he was emigrating to America. When Dinesh asked why, his friend said, “I want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”

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