The Section 8 Housing “White Lie”

_S8The recent “pool party” incident in McKinney, Texas took the lid off yet another “white lie” about so-called Section 8 housing. I am appalled at the number of so-called “educated” black folks in the media who are buying into the stereotyping of black people as it relates to Section 8 rental properties.

Rental assistance programs in this country began during the Great Depression when millions of individuals lost jobs and homes. America’s racist history prevented many eligible African American families from receiving one-red penny of the many so called alphabet soup programs to get people (white men) back on their feet. In fact black people were overtly discriminated against and only white people received government assistance, including rental assistance. The Housing Act of 1937, Section 8, authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on behalf of low income households. The program benefits individuals with disabilities as well as veterans.

The current Section 8 program is a continuation, with some additional assistance programs, of a program that started almost 80 years. At one point the program benefited only white people—back when every government “affirmative action” program benefitted only whites, including a wide variety of GI Bills, GI loans, farm loans, farm subsidies, home loans, and suburban housing developments that excluded blacks from purchases. America’s racism in its housing lies at the core of the situation facing inner city Baltimore and other similar communities. During the 1970s white families could buy homes outside Baltimore, many of which are now worth $400 thousand and up. Black people were overtly discriminated against and denied home loans or the right to own homes outside Baltimore. Instead blacks were “locked in” the inner city, denied homeownership, denied the wealth that comes from homeownership—and denied the right to earn a decent living when inner cities such as Baltimore lost factories and sources of employment. White people moved to the suburbs then commuted back into cities such as Baltimore taking all the available jobs. The result is what Baltimore is today, a city with a large black inner city, surrounding by white wealth based on homeownership and easy commutes, and racist hiring policies that give most of the city jobs to whites who live outside Baltimore.

So who’s on Section 8 rental? The U. S. Government keeps track of everything, including Section 8 rental assistance. For the period March 2011 to June 2012, 50 percent of voucher-funded assistance had a white head of household; 45 percent had a black head of household, 15 percent Latino, 2 percent were Asians, 1 percent Native American or Alaska Natives. So my question is given this distribution why would “Section 8 people” automatically refer to black people in McKinney? Why would a white female make negative comments about “those Section 8” people crashing a pool party? What “Section 8 people?” Homeless veterans? The disabled? And why didn’t the media types dispel the negative racial connotation? Why are these media types not “smart enough” to connect the dots on “Section 8 housing” as it relates directly to American racism in its housing policies? We don’t have to look any further than the City of Amarillo to find the answer.

Last month I made an Open Records request on the number of people working for the City of Amarillo who are earning more than $60,000 a year. Of the 512 people who earn more than $60,000, 407 are white males. How can this be? The Amarillo City Manager and the City Attorney earn a combined $422,000 a year. Not one black female earns over $60,000 a year working for the City of Amarillo. We should all be outraged that a city such as Amarillo openly promotes white males as the “privileged class” when it comes to salaries and promotions using taxpayer dollars. Instead of walking down Hughes to celebrate Juneteenth, we should march on City Hall demanding inclusion in the city’s workforce. Add this to the recent “debacle” over the excessive water bills, and the appearance that the city manager can’t “lie straight on a bed” to explain something as “elementary” as reading the water meter, and one has to wonder what exactly is he getting paid for? And these are the same folks planning to spend millions for a baseball park, downtown hotel complex. Now, translate the City budget allocated to salaries, being paid to mostly white people, and you can see why Section 8 housing can so easily be seen as “those people on Section 8” meaning black folks. If black folks could get hired, get salaries and promotions, “like white folks” we could live in some of the big ole new houses being built on the southwest part of town.

But white people still want to “play dumb” about white privilege and point fingers at “those Section 8 people” without accepting the truth of Section 8 history and how Section 8 was used to ghetto-ize black people to avoid neighborhood integration. And, there are still some white people who want to point fingers at folks who use Section 8 vouchers today and deny the history that at one point it was only white people who were the primary beneficiaries of Section 8 housing rental assistance. And, white people are still 50 percent of the people using Section 8 housing. If more black people could get them “good guv’ment” jobs at the City of Amarillo, McKinney, and Baltimore, earning more than $60,000 a year, maybe they wouldn’t need Section 8 housing.

Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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