Tuesday, May 25, 2010

George Lakoff: HUD Is Trying to Privatize and Mortgage Off All of America's Public Housing

Below the Radar: HUD Is Trying to Privatize and Mortgage Off All of America's Public Housing
by George Lakoff

The Obama administration's move to the right is about to give conservatives a victory they could not have anticipated, even under Bush. HUD, under Obama, submitted legislation, called PETRA, to Congress that would result in the privatization of all public housing in America.

The new owners would charge ten percent above market rates to impoverished tenants, money that would be mostly paid by the US government (you and me, the taxpayers). To maintain the property, the new owners would take out a mortgage for building repair and maintenance (like a home equity loan), with no cap on interest rates.
With rents set above market rates, the mortgage risk would be attractive to banks. Either they make a huge profit on the mortgages paid for by the government, or, if the government lowers what it will pay for rents, the property goes into foreclosure. The banks get it and can sell it off to developers.

Sooner or later, the housing budget will be cut back and such foreclosures will happen. The structure of the proposal and the realities of Washington make it a virtual certainty.

The banks and developers make a fortune, with the taxpayers paying for it. The public loses its public housing property. The impoverished tenants lose their apartments, or have their rents go way up if they are forced into the private market. Homelessness increases; government gets smaller. The banks and developers win. It is a Bank Bonanza! The poor and the public lose.

And a precedent is set. The government can - privatize any public property: Schools, libraries, national parks, federal buildings - just as has begun to happen in California, where the right-wing governor has started to auction off state property and has even suggested selling off the Supreme Court building.

To Read the Rest of the Editorial

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the Manhattan Institute is a group that supports this. they rock a picture of milton friedman in their office lobby. here are other things on their agenda:

outlaw unemployment (esp. of 'deadbeat dads')
ban resident protest of development in the area
broad (mis)use eminent domain
reduced education budgets
privatize the MTA (nyc's public transportation)
decreased income/corporate taxes
increased regressive taxes (sales, tolls)
stronger penalties/enforcement of minor crimes
larger budgets for law enforcement

this was all in one issue last summer--every article appears in full on their website