Report Links Homelessness To Federal Spending Priorities

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


According to a report released by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, “massive homelessness” has been created in the U.S. over the last twenty-five years because of cutbacks in federal affordable-housing programs. In the last decade, HUD has spent no money at all directly on construction of new public housing. Instead, the government has focused on the Hope VI grant program, which transforms distressed public housing into mixed-income communities.

Also during the last decade, HUD has demolished, sold or re-developed 100,000 housing units. As a result, the report says, there are fewer subsidized dwellings available. Over 4 million families live in HUD-subsidized housing, and between 2 and 3.5 million are homeless in any given year.

This study is of particular interest in New Orleans, whose public housing has been steadily decreasing for years, and because of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina. There has also been a recent controversy in Jefferson Parish, which is just outside New Orleans, involving Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, who maintains that “With the number of jobs out there, nobody should be on public housing unless you’re ignorant or lazy.”

Roberts and the Jefferson Parish Council have made it clear that they do not want displaced public housing residents from New Orleans moving to Jefferson Parish. The rationale is that low-income housing causes crime. As da po’ blog points out, people who relied on public housing in the city before Katrina cannot afford to come back, a lot of working poor rely on public housing, and low-income housing does not cause crime. “You can’t eliminate crime by eliminating low-income housing. Try fair education and workers’ rights to achieve that end.” da po’ blog also points out that most of the people not wanted by Jefferson Parish just happen to be African American.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest