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September 27, 2004

Chicago Tribune: Lower Rents Could Hurt Poor

That's not a joke. Nor is that my "twisting of their words," George Bush style (according to Jennifer Loven, I mean). That's the actual headline.

Windy City chuckles me up with this story from the Chicago Tribune (requires registration):

Lower rents could hurt poor

HUD may reduce housing subsidies

By William Grady and Antonio Olivo

Tribune staff reporters

Published September 27, 2004

Apartment costs seem to be trending flat to slightly higher these days for many renters.

But new calculations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development say rents in the Chicago area will be mostly lower starting next month. And that could make life tougher for low-income families in need of assistance from the federal housing choice voucher program, according to critics, including Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Housing Authority officials.

"Especially for the larger bedroom units, it hurts families because it limits the areas they can get access to," said Meghan Harte, the CHA's managing director for housing vouchers.

At issue are new benchmark rents that HUD proposes to implement nationwide Friday.

The agency uses the benchmarks to determine the maximum subsidies that vouchers will provide for modest one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom apartments.

Housing choice vouchers generally are worth less when the benchmarks, called "fair market rents," are reduced.

Yes, but of course that's because the government needs to spend less in order to subsidize the rent. If the apartments have lower rents, and the government reduces the subsidy by the value of that reduced rent, how on earth have the poor been hurt?

As Windy City remarks (paraphrased), the writers of the story seem to be confusing reduced rents, which help the poor, with reduced dependency on government subsidies, which hurts the Democratic Party as well as its various political-advocacy auxilliaries.

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posted by Ace at 01:01 PM

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