September 20, 2012

"Awardable Housing:" A useful neologism

For most of my life, I've been reading about "affordable housing" -- i.e., a certain percentage of new units are priced below market. I've always wondered who gets those? Commenter Thomas O. Meehan has an answer:
Sometimes these schemes are perpetrated outside of section 8. I was president of a tenant's association in Princeton NJ during the transfer of a complex from rental to condo. The local Democrat politicos attempted to insert affordable housing grantees into the mix without telling the proposed condo purchasers. The plan only failed when the scheme was exposed by yours truly.  
I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time.  
A hidden aspect is that those chosen for such affordable housing tend to be Democrat county committee people or relatives of public figures. This led me to christen the program, "Awardable Housing."


Seth said...

Here in NYC there is a Councilmember named Rosie Mendez, who represents the East Village and part of the Lower East Side, and up to 34th Street. She was an aide to the former Councilmember, Margarita Lopez, who is now a top official at the New York Public Housing Authority.

Both these women are Puerto Rican lesbians, and they each have an apartment inside a city-owned low-income East Village co-op that has apparently become a residence exclusively for politically connected female apparatchiks.

Seth said...

Isn't all housing affordable housing? It is the housing that the person who lives there can afford.

Sparks said...

"Isn't all housing affordable housing? It is the housing that the person who lives there can afford."

No, people living in houses they couldn't afford was the downfall of the American economy.

Sparks said...

"Isn't all housing affordable housing? It is the housing that the person who lives there can afford."

People living in houses they couldn't afford brought down the American economy.

thomas O. Meehan said...

Hey Steve, the "commenter" has a name and a blog. Still, glad you found my term useful.

New Jersey has a state-wide supreme court mandated affordable housing program that totally supersedes local zoning. Court appointed masters direct how many units of awardable housing individual communities must accept. This is one reason why NJ property taxes are so high and why the state is hemorrhaging population.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't all housing affordable housing? It is the housing that the person who lives there can afford."
"No, people living in houses they couldn't afford was the downfall of the American economy._____________________

And while I can't stand Barry Soetoro, Barney Frank, Franklin Raines, Chris Dodd, Maxine Waters, etc., I could spit in the eye of George Bush too for redistributing my wealth to those who didn't have to put much more than a damn dime down on a mortage. Bastards, all of them.

Seth said...

"Isn't all housing affordable housing? It is the housing that the person who lives there can afford."

No, people living in houses they couldn't afford was the downfall of the American economy.

Ha ha, ok.

But at the same time wasn't the housing bubble exactly what led us to believe that the American economy was doing well for 12 or 13 years?

It's the same thing. We are probably no worse off than we would have been without the bubble.

Anonymous said...

OT, but Steve, looks like a newspaper has finally done some investigating reporting on Obama's back story:

Here's the Fox news clip with the writer

Here's the link to the series on him:

Anonymous said...

OT, Steve, WA Times has published a 10 part series on Obama, pointing out the inconsistencies you've often pointed out in his narrative:

Here's a Bret Baier news clip with the author of the piece:

rho said...

Housing is a proxy for class.

Everybody knows it. It's an iron law of society. End of story.

Lugash said...

But at the same time wasn't the housing bubble exactly what led us to believe that the American economy was doing well for 12 or 13 years?

I'd make it 7 years, from the tech implosion around 2000 to 2007. The most severe decline in lending standards started in 2003.

It's the same thing. We are probably no worse off than we would have been without the bubble.

Possibly, but I think a more gradual move into recession/depression would have prevented all the crap that went down due to the credit lockup. Without the building boom we would have had fewer friends from the south come and visit as well.

Anonymous said...

It'd be a fun project to track down patronage apartments of your political enemies and expose them.

Does that require too much digging?

Anonymous said...

There's more than one way to think about "awardable housing" (great phrase, btw).

Great old New Yorker cartoon (not many of those, I know): Two old guys sitting on a park bench, and one says:

"Well, you know, I'd just go ahead and die, but the thing is... I've got a rent-controlled apartment."

I remember back in the early 90s (rent-wise, this is back in the era of "Slaves of New York") going to a party at some Jewish girl's rent-controlled apartment: 7 or 8 bedrooms (!!) in a pretty good building on the Upper West Side. I recall her joking about how she "inherited" the lease from her grandmother, and paid about like $400/month for the place.

Now keep in mind, that this is not simply exploiting the arcane and ancient laws for the space itself; this is also one of the ways in which Certain Young People are able to take those year-or-two-long Unpaid Internships in key positions that promise advancement, when their cohorts can't afford to; and this is, thereby, one of the ways in which The People Who DON'T Control The Media are able to keep their octopus-tentacles wrapped tightly round the throats of various media and cultural institutions. It's not really that legendary and quasi-fictitious Higher IQ (unless by that you just mean aptitude for gaming the system); believe me, I've seen plenty of Chosen middlebrows in high places, and plenty of Unchosen highbrows in middle places.

It ain't all about just location, location, location.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Princeton. I remember back in the early 1990's a friend of mine lived in one the expensive (to some) condo developments there. Feeling that it was a nice neighborhood, I left my Dad's car door unlocked in the parking lot when I visited.

I didn't realize that the development had a percentage of "awardable" housing until some idiot stole the cell phone out of my Dad's car by cutting the receiver cable (the phone was permanently installed in the car).

Cutting the wire rendered the phone useless for both the thief and my Dad - but there was absolutely nothing else to steal in the car.

Awardables ruin everybody's quality of life.

Anonymous said...

In my town in northern NJ the same thing happened in a rent-to-own apartment/condo building. A number of the Section 8 waivers went to politically connected people who didn't meet the income requirements. At least around here, government-sponsored housing seems to be an added perk that comes with working for the gov.

Anonymous said...

Dahinda said...

It's all a scam! By "all" I mean anything involving government regardless of party or ideology. You need a clout to get ahead in any level of government. The word "clout" was coined on the South Side of Chicago a century or so ago and meant a person on the inside that could get favors done for you. The meaning of the word has become diluted and now means a certain level of power or charisma one has but the orginal meaning was what I said above. What the commentor was describing was a person who wanted to be a clout to the people who wanted in on that condo development.

Ed said...

For once the commentators are missing the point.

One feature of the American welfare state is that when implemented by local officials, it turns into a version of the old spoils system. Supporters of various (yeah, usually Democratic) local party machines somehow manage to qualify for benefits and and people who don't have this connection find it impossible to do so.

Its hard to know how extensive this practice is because neither Republican-leaning nor Democratic-leaning commentators are that interested in discussing this. The Democratic-leaning commentators for obvious reasons, the Republican-leaning commentators is that the ideological position is that all government provided benefits are evil, so they are not interested or even hostile to improving how they are administered.

Incidentally, this is probably why government assistance programs in the U.S. tend to be really complicated, requiring lots of paperwork and narrowly designed so that the recipient has to successfully claim to fall exactly into certain demographic categories. Setting things up this way is an open invitation to fraud and ensuring you need to be an insider. Of course these features are the whole point (thought its hard to think of poor people as insiders, of course not all of the "deserving beneficiaries" are actually poor).

Likewise, the government program that is most free from this stuff is the one that just involves mailing checks to people who fall into a few broad categories, eg social security. While I agree that with the America's history of corruption a European-style welfare state is a bad idea, the federal government has shown that universal or near universal entitlements that involve just mailing out checks work OK. Even in the late nineteenth century the federal government successfully administered a veterans pension program.

Anonymous said...

Related to this is the whole lottery procedure and forms you have to fill out to qualify for low income housing. Insiders, such as those in social services, alert their friends or others who they are sympathetic to about choice locations and when and how to apply to qualify.

Also, techncially, Section 8 is about housing for the "poor" not just poor NAMS.

So one way that wealthy communities get around Section 8 is to build housing for the elderly who like NAMS are also poor; or, alternatively, see to it by pulling some strings that only poor Whites not poor NAMS get "steered" into the housing (there have already been some lawsuits over this practice).

If you have housing for poor Whites and not poor NAMS you are apt to get less crime.

Double ditto by housing the poor elderly over 70, because you are apt not to get too much crime even if the elderly are NAMS.

By housing the poor elderly or poor Whites rich SWPL communites can claim they are complying with the letter of the law even if they are shirking the spirit of the law (to treat all poor equally).

It's the middle class White communities who don't have the smarts, resources, or the connections to game the system that get it in the neck most often.

Mannerheim said...

There was a piece on the radio this morning here in Chicago talking about how the city was tearing down low-income high rises on the south side and trying to replace them with "mixed income" developments, where some of the apartments would go be subsidized for poor blacks, some would have normal market rents, and the rest would sell as condos. They mentioned the administrators were having trouble hitting the mix they intended, and it wasn't hard to guess it was because middle class renters' view of "normal market rent" for living next to J'Trayvonius and Sh'nee'qua differed from the central planners'.

Anonymous said...

It's like that Habitat for Humanity. They should really call it, Habitat for black and brown Humanity. I've never seen them give a house to any white person.

beowulf said...

If I was a developer I'd reserve affordable units for police officers and firefighters (sorry teachers, go buy a commuter rail pass).
One, it'll push burglars and other criminals to, what's term, softer targets; and two, it'd be politically unstoppable. Get the police and fire unions on board and the "relatives of public figure"s will have to keep looking.

BTW, "awardable housing" is a great phrase. Remember too that Section 8 housing always has a waiting list (Congress authorizes HUD to subsidize housing but only appropriates enough money for a fraction of those eligible). Since Section 8 is administered by local governments, I wouldn't be shocked if those Section 8 vouchers were awarded to friends of local pols. For some reason, Congress thinks locally and state run bureaucracies are better run than federal ones, that's a very dubious assumption. One advantage of replacing all welfare with Milton Friedman's negative income tax is that all welfare spending would flow through one agency, the (federal) IRS, which is already in the business of collecting taxes and sending out refund checks anyway.

Anonymous said...

Awardable housing has been going on a long time and it is not just democrats. Whites will have to learn to game the system to survive.

Andrew Ryan said...

Another NJ resident here. My middle-class suburban housing development, and the other major in in my town, both were required to have "affordable housing", i.e. condos built as well, with income requirements and restrictions on re-sale value. Definitely a bit "darker" than the rest of the neighborhood but hasn't been a major problem.

Also, the only people I personally know who live in these houses are politically connected--their parents work for the township. Frankly, I don't even know who else ever finds out about the program--and the income cap is pretty high (50K/year, I think) so not a bad deal.

First, the libs in NJ tried to redistribute the wealth from the suburbs to the ghetto through school funding. Now that approach has reached diminishing returns, they are now using housing to redistribute NAMs to the suburbs and in the mean time enrich themsevles and various cronies and family members. Although school funding was the same deal--some councilmen's brother-in-law gets the contract to build a new building w/o any experience the structure is unusable after millions of $$ change hands.

I imagine it's quite shocking for the rest of the country to start experiencing what NJ has been dealing with for decades. It's gotten so bad here that we have a Republican governer and the Dems can't even find anyone to run against him.

Hopefully the country will figure out this pattern of money (suburbs>ghetto) and people (ghetto>suburbs) flow faster than we did--it took 30 years before even the marginal Dems (white, working class) could be peeled off.

Anonymous said...

Happy to liven up your links.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Sparks:

I would say it was ACTUALLY the idiots who gave mortgages to those people who were living in houses they couldn't afford that was the problem.

Reply to Mannerheim:

Interesting. Shows how central planners just don't get it. Their ideas only "work" when there is compulsion, and even then not very well (recall the old USSR). If there having trouble getting "middle class renters", how much harder is it going to be to get condo buyers and owners who will have a S***avious for a neighbor?

Anonymous said...

Romney said 47% of Americans bitterly cling to big government teats.

pat said...

I trained for a while as a "Housing Expert". The Housing Expert is one of the traditional career paths for Urban Planners. Th point being someone who facilitates and promotes the expenditure of public money on housing projects.

My first acquaintanceship with housing as as academic subject was in my Housing class. This was a required course in the Urban Planning Graduate school in the George Washington curricula. The central thing we were supposed to take away from this class was how to conduct a Housing Study. Our professor had a career that involved flying around the country and doing such studies for local municipalities. They were sort of like the later Environmental Impact Studies. You had to have such a study before you could apply for federal funds.

I read up on the housing literature so I was well prepared to do my Housing Study in class. I knew for example that America with relatively little in housing subsidies had a better housing stock than was found in the USSR or Europe. So I folded in reasonable assumptions in my classroom exercise. The math was quite primitive in these analyses. I predicted that housing would spontaneously improve or stay the same without any infusion of public funds.

The professor was furious. He called me an idiot. I had missed the whole point. I had been "unprofessional". The point was to provide a document filled with some numerical mumbo-jumbo that proved that the housing stock was doomed without federal funds. No one was ashamed of this scam. Fudging numbers was a "professional practice".

The next semester I got a Mellon Fellowship to work on a regression analysis for the National Capitol Planning Commission. My job was to take the previous census data and somehow develop a regression model that would output a housing analysis based on data from the last census. The most recent census failed to ask some question that had formerly been asked. The head of research for Nat Cap Planning had used that data to write some report ten years earlier that predicted riots because of bad housing. There were indeed riots over something or other, and his career was made. Now he wanted to do it again. He had a problem in that the census no longer provided some data point that he had used before.

His solution was regression. He had no idea whatsoever what regression was but he wanted some. He got a smart young graduate student (me) to give him some of this magic regression stuff.

I didn't work too fast. I was paid for a semester so I took a semester. At our last meeting I presented him with my analysis. I showed him a cryptic math model that did what he wanted. He was thrilled. Then I showed him that it was all stuff and nonsense. You could get the same result by multiplying some input by two (as I remember). He was of course furious. Again I had been unprofessional. He explained that if the model was that simple no one would be impressed.

Housing analysis is a scam designed to employ bureaucrats. I also learned not to trust governmental math models. The next summer I was an intern at another Washington DC planning agency (Wash COG). They had a famous math model which I showed them to be mathematical nonsense too. Again my work was not appreciated. The man (my boss) who had made that model knew perfectly well that it was meaningless. He was angry that I was trying to expose it.


ATBOTL said...

Steve, do some reading about the "Mount Laurel" case in NJ that lead to absurd "affordable housing" laws. Tons of good material there. Wealthy developers, including all kinds of GOP connected types teamed up with the anti-white left to screw over the whole state.

I know a Jewish family that has a huge apt.(would be worth eight figures on the market as a condo) in one of the most expensive places in the world that they pay peanuts for because grandpa has been living their since the 30's when he was a garment worker and the area was dirty slum full of factories. They are blue collar people, no one in their family went to college. That's called "yiddishe kopf." I also know several families of college educated middle class goyim in the suburbs who had grandma in a rent controlled place on the east side and just let her die without having any of the available younger people in the family move in first. That called "goyishe kopf." They do make better decisions than us and that's why they are richer.

NW European whites need to embrace urban living or get used to living as impoverished peasants on the global plantation. I think pathological hyper individualism makes it difficult for us to live in big cities that aren't homogeneous. NW people have no social support networks. All "our" institutions are self-hating or ethnically neutral at best. Either this changes or we will all end up living like Honey-Boo-Boo.

Marlowe said...

Robert Heinlein had a fairly lengthy section of his 1946 book on practical politics, Take back your government (reprinted Baen Books 1992), devoted to discussing the problem of distributing patronage. He wrote:

This is one of the touchiest problems in politics but one that you can't duck. No matter how anxious you may be to avoid all contact with a "spoils" system the matter is bound to come up and you will have to pass on it, as long as there are any public jobs which are filled by appointment rather than by honest competitive examination. There are still lots of such appointive jobs and there is no end in sight.

Amen. If anything the problem has only grown worse over the decades since he wrote those words given the number of think tanks encamped around Washington and the endless circulation of appointees from government posts to and from these according to the vicissitudes of elections. Even Senator Harry Truman obtained a paid secretarial position for his wife at a D.C. government office (she never turned up to it despite Truman pleading with her in a letter to show her face occasionally so it wouldn't look so bad). In the U.K. it has recently become public that many Members of Parliament employ close relatives as constituency office staff and pay higher than market rates for the work performed. When the M.P. vacates his seat in the Commons he receives a final year salary payoff and can also pay off his staff on the same basis out of public funds. M.P.s also have paid their home mortgages out of public funds (including the current -Conservative - Prime Minister David Cameron who has a personal fortune estimated at £5 million).

Funny how these champions of diversity seem to end up creating and living in lesbian communes. Also funny how devout, pious and deeply conservative Catholic Hispanics keep voting lesbians back into public office.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

The Montgomery County (MD) affordable housing adjacent to upscale downtown Bethesda looks to be peopled with SWPL types in training.

Meanwhile, on the grittier east side of Montgomery County, the affordable housing seems to be filled with hood rats.

When you confront the nice white ladies of Montgomery County government over this disparity, they say that those people in eastern Montgomery County need access to the "services" there.

Of course, they warehouse the "services" in eastern Montgomery County because that is where the "need" is, thereby completing the loop and keeping things as they should be in western, affluent Montgomery County.

The liberal/PC hypocrisy in Montgomery County is beyond belief.

Orthodox said...

In Beijing, affordable housing is the big topic. A few years ago, one economist suggested that public housing only have public bathroom, so as to dissuade the well off from trying to grab a home and also encourage the poor to move up.

Eric said...

Ah yes. I recall Chollie Rangle's "home" in Harlem consisted of a group of four rent-controlled apartments. You know, for poor people.

Anonymous said...

The forced habitation of incompatible and hostile neighbors belonging to different classes is beginning to look like the Soviet practice of communal apartments.

Anonymous said...

From CBS News website:

"Housing Project For Elderly Gays Gets Approval In Philadelphia"

Awardable housing, indeed.

Anonymous said...

It's not really that legendary and quasi-fictitious Higher IQ ...believe me, I've seen plenty of Chosen middlebrows in high places, and plenty of Unchosen highbrows in middle places.

You do realize that your small number of personal experiences amount to a few anecdotes, right? Even to challenge social science data, you'll have to do better.

Asher said...

I have a friend, female, who is a sommelier at a high-end restaurant and who, at the time, was finding apartments for HB1 workers, for cash. Adjusting for her untaxed income she was probably pulling in 70k and engaged to a guy in the tech industry who was making over 100k. Somehow, she managed to nab a unit in a trendy new condo building at around 35 percent off the going price.

She bragged about it, quite a bit, too. Nowadays, people seem to be bragging about their involvement in corrupt practices.

This is Seattle, BTW, where so-called affordable housing seems to be about connected hipsters getting slightly more trendy housing than they could otherwise afford.

Anonymous said...

...believe me, I've seen plenty of Chosen middlebrows in high places, and plenty of Unchosen highbrows in middle places.

You do realize that your small number of personal experiences amount to a few anecdotes, right? Even to challenge social science data, you'll have to do better.

This is so right. One ought not to express any opinion that hasn't been previously vetted by peer-reviewed science.

As for opinions based on mere personal experience... Good God, man! What were you thinking?


Anonymous said...

Data is superior to anecdote, Cennbeorc. Trends defined by data in the social sciences are rarely perfect. There are always exceptions and outliers. But a few anecdotes like those of the Anonymous commenter should not be considered sufficient to invalidate the data. If you read the comment closely, he does seem to be making that claim.

Miss Carnivorous said...

That's funny!

Anonymous said...

Great word as section 8 does not impart any meaning to the listener. A quote (not mine) about section 8 now makes sense: Awardable housing gets Democrats elected, and makes Republicans rich.

Anonymous said...

"Housing is a proxy for class." If by housing you mean location, only with strict zoning laws in place. Otherwise you will naturally get a mix of classes living near each other.

Matthew said...

I'd guess the newest, nicest developments probably have the "awardable housing," with units going to friends or family of pols or bureaucrats as payback for building permits and/or redevelopment grants. Low-income rental units in other apartments aren't necessarily so bad, as the apartment owner has the incentive to keep the place nice and not let in low-lifes. It's the HUD home neighbors, etc., in places where the renter/seller has no incentive to keep the neighborhood nice, who are probably the worst.

I have at least three friends who live(d) in low-income housing. All three are single/divorced women, two of them have young children, one is a NAM (a stunningly beautiful Hispanic with a white mother) and none would make annoying neighbors. Two of them collected income under the table in side jobs that, if declared, might have otherwise prevented them from qualifying. None of them had connections, SFAIK.

Thomas O. Meehan said...

Matthew, in New Jersey studies of affordable housing recipients, suggest that rather than the struggling poor, many units tended to be occupied by single mothers as you suggest and by recent college graduates and even graduate students. This is the case in the suburbs where no one seemed to have taken into consideration the difficulty of transportation for truly poor recipients. Many of the intended tenants found that without a car they were isolated. To urban dwellers this is intolerable. So the truly suburban affordable housing units went to young people who never needed them in the first place. An of course, many of these had connections. Princeton has had Councilwomen, Mayors and high profile academic Deans living in publicly funded mixed income housing.

Most shocking, there is nothing in the bylaws of these housing schemes preventing non-citizens from being housed at public expense. You can get a crack at Awardable Housing if you're just eligible for permanent status. One need only to drive through these housing developments to see faces of Meso-America on the children. A number of years ago a local child rapist was found to be a salvadorian "refugee" living under a church sanctuary program and living in Awardable Housing.