Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Am I a Recipient of Republican Largesse?

According to this article on AmericaBLOG, the Bush administration is using the Section 8 housing program to force funding out of (Democratic) urban areas into (Republican) suburbs.  Here, in loverly Minnesota, that would mean out of Minneapolis/St. Paul and into Fridley, Eagan, Apple Valley/Lakeville (presumably).  I never thought when my brother and I got into the (limited to one home in our case) Section 8 business that this would be something to be concerned about.  More importantly, I'm embarrassed that this might mean somehow Republicans are creating an advantage for me because my Section 8 home is in Apple Valley.  You might think it was offset by my rental property in Richfield (solidly Democratic, so presumably subject to the same jiggering of funds away from there), but that property isn't Section 8, so there's not a net balancing out.  Not that any of it really matters if they just mess with the program so much it falls apart in Minnesota.
My brother and I enjoy being Section 8 home owners/landlords.  We don't abuse the system (we actually charge what we felt pays for the mortgage and services, not the maximum allowed under the program, and we financed in such a way that the mortgage payments were kept extremely low), we keep the house in good shape and are actually adding quite a few features (new carpet downstairs, brand new deck, redid the storm doors, new, larger and more efficient water heater, lawnmower [that stays with the house, we didn't expect them to buy one], newer washer/dryer, and plans for some new windows and new countertops).  When we're there to do repairs or coordinate someone else doing repairs, it's obvious how excited our tenant is about living in a real house with lots of room for her children and you can definitely tell how excited her children are to be in a house with even a smidgeon of space they can call their own.  When her girls first showed up to see the place, they were literally bouncing from room to room they were so enthused. 
I remember my own childhood, living in apartments with rats, one bedroom for four people (kids sleep in the front room), all the same stories that people dredge up to point out why we shouldn't provide Section 8 ("if I my parents lived through it, they can"), but my parents still came by a lot of advantages in life and still had a lot of family support to fall back on (free meat from my grandpa, for instance - whole cars full of the stuff - and we did take advantage of government cheese a few times), they were basically the middle generation of an evolving, multi-generational trend toward middle class that seems to be the paradigm for many of my friends - their children in turn had the advantages they gave us to skip (for the most part) the rat-infested apartments, at least by the time we had our own children, and go to school without too many worries about whether we'd starve.  I like to think Section 8 is, at least in part, a way to jump start that process for a generation - it gets them past the extra generation of individuals required to land you in that area where you can worry about college and career instead of shelter and food.  Sure, that doesn't apply to all Section 8 tenants, but nothing applies to everyone, and hopefully, more than anything else, it applies to the children who get to take advantage of the program.

1 comment:

BiggTree said...

Section 8 housing? Is that the kind of place Max Klinger is hoping to move into after they kick him out of the army for wearing a dress?