Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Media Deserves Blame for Homelessness in the U.S.

The same media that sold us the “certainty” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has redefined homelessness so that low-income individuals, not powerful Presidents, Senators and Congresspersons, are to blame. It’s no wonder the public feels hopeless about solving homelessness, and blames local mayors rather than the federal government.

After the Nixon Administration stopped the construction of new public housing in the United States, the country was left with fewer low-cost units for families than would be required to meet future demand.

Within a decade, homeless families became visible on the nation’s streets. No subsequent President has addressed the shortage of low-cost housing for families by increasing the nation’s public housing supply, and the number of such units has steadily declined.

As young professionals returned to major cities in the late 1970’s, upward pressure on rents left urban areas increasingly unaffordable for low-income people.

The Reagan Administration responded to this emerging affordability crisis by sharply cutting federal housing funding in 1981. This denied low-income residents the subsidies necessary for them to stay housed.

Widespread homelessness resulted, and it was not until 1999--after Bill Clinton had eliminated any new Section 8 vouchers--- that the federal government began meaningfully increasing the numbers served by federal housing subsidies.

Bush then stopped this progress in its tracks.

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