As if President Obama’s long list of failed promises for reformations within the economic, healthcare and immigration sectors weren’t enough, he and his administration are now striving to build a “legacy” filled with more extreme policy measures that even his biggest supporters cannot seem to comprehend. The Obama administration’s most recent radically leftist move under the Department of Housing and Urban Development seeks to allow the federal government to impose a serious governmental overreach, mandating money from taxpayers to be allocated toward a fund that would allow low-income families to live in wealthier neighborhoods.
This measure, framed by the HUD as alleviating the issue of lack of diversification in wealthy neighborhoods, confuses discrimination with preference. The rollout of the new measure would begin its damage by gathering key intel on a community’s overall race, ethnicity and income distribution. After the data is gathered, HUD would micro-target communities that are seemingly “racist” due to their lack of diversity. But as many have said, diversification within affluent communities is not an issue of racism. It is an issue of economic integration, and the federal government pressuring local municipalities to implement low-income housing is an invasion of government control and individual preference.
In a perfect world, all individuals would have the opportunity to live in Martha’s Vineyard, rarely work or pay bills and live extravagantly. But the simple truth is that we are not living in a utopian society, and the Obama administration cannot expect citizens to allow taxpayer dollars to fund low-income individuals to live in the wealthiest neighborhoods. I’m not saying this because I do not support having the opportunity to live in affluent communities — I simply cannot wrap my head around the fact that the proposed regulations would seriously enforce municipalities to over accommodate.
Let’s not forget about the implications of enforcing neighborhoods such as these to accommodate for low-income residents — property values would plummet and extra funding would be necessary to create infrastructure. How can we expect easy transitions among individuals who are unable to afford living in these neighborhoods in the first place? At grocery stores in wealthier communities, for example, will low-income residents still be able to use food stamps to cover the higher prices of necessities? I highly doubt the high costs will be covered by pre-existing government programs.
The way in which HUD targets about 1,250 expensive neighborhoods takes a punch at the American Dream by equivocating “expensive” communities with “racist” communities; but, this is not a race issue. This is not an issue of alleviating infringement upon equal opportunity, affordable housing or fair housing. This is an attempt to integrate everyone based on the mistaken belief that minorities are unable to live in wealthy neighborhoods. Quite frankly, this set of regulations shines a light on yet another way to segregate minorities from the rest of the nation when there is no issue at hand. To assume that all minorities are poor is racist in itself, if you ask me.
Individuals are in no way barred from living in wealthier neighborhoods. In fact, under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it is illegal to discriminate in buying, selling and leasing properties. This proposal, however, would take the Fair Housing Act too far by asking local governments to provide support to low-income minorities seeking housing in wealthy communities.
Rather than attempting to make low-income residents completely abandon their neighborhoods, the HUD should mandate taxpayer dollars to revamp low-income communities. The interpretation of the American Dream has surely changed within the last few centuries, but the symbolism behind the set of ideals has not. Working hard to achieve the financial means to live in wealthy communities is a way to grasp the concept of upward social mobility. Why must we punish communities for holding onto the idea of working hard to achieve more?
American economist Milton Friedman once said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” It might appear that I’m criticizing a policy that doesn’t have a result yet. We can already predict, however, that the results of the program will be disastrous not only by simple principle and logic, but also by the rollout of a similar HUD program from 20 years ago, which proved to be catastrophic.
Again, this is not an issue of racial integration; affluent communities include all races that are able to afford homes there. Economic integration will not happen by government intervention. In fact, intervention will only push us further away from achieving that goal.
Sarah Dhanaphatana is a rising junior majoring in political science. Her column, “Capitol Talk,” ran every other Wednesday.