Sailer has pointed out that the federal government is trying to use housing vouchers to get poor people out of public housing and bad neighbourhoods and into good neighbourhoods in the suburbs.
This will fail.
I will state what should be obvious, but nobody ever seems to state:
Neighbourhoods aren’t dangerous, neighbourhoods don’t murder people. Building aren’t dangerous, buildings don’t rob people. Homes aren’t dangerous, homes don’t rape people. Look at this picture of the infamous Cabrini Greens:
How many people did those buildings murder? How many drugs did they sell? How many people did they rob? None, because the Cabrini Greens buildings didn’t move, they were inanimate objects.
However convenient a shorthand it might be, neighbourhoods aren’t dangerous, the people in them are. Housing isn’t safe, the people in them make a safe environment.
It is the people in the neighbourhood who make it safe or make it dangerous.
With that bit of self-evident obvioussness out of the way, it is easy to see why this will fail. When you start moving people to new neighbourhoods, the people stay the same. Because the people make a neighbourhood good or bad, the people moving from a bad neighbourhood will make the new neighbourhood the same as their old one (over time).
You can not use vouchers to make safe neighbourhoods, because the kinds of people who use vouchers are the kinds of people who make neighbourhoods unsafe. The poor, the unemployed, the shiftless, the criminals, the single mothers, the addicted, the drunk, the high time orientated, etc. are the types who receive vouchers, they are also the types who make neighbourhoods unsafe.
Safe, affordable housing is an impossibility, because as soon as you make housing affordable, the type of people who make neighbourhoods unsafe move in. These unsafe people then cleanse the neighbourhood of safe people and the neighbourhood turns becomes just like the ones the people were trying to escape.
There are two possible exceptions.
The first is discrimination. A neighbourhood can remain safe and affordable if the neighbourhood is allowed to discriminate to keep the safe poor (college students, young married families, large traditional families, struggling entrepreneurs, etc) while keeping the unsafe poor out. The safe poor though, are likely not going to be on vouchers. Vouchers select for the unsafe poor. As well, discrimination is evil, so it can’t be allowed no matter how much it would improve the lives of the safe poor.
The second is dispersal and selection. You could select desirable candidates on an individual basis from the unsafe poor to give vouchers and then then disperse them, no more than one family per a block, in safe neighbourhoods. If the selected individual is not naturally an unsafe person, they could fit into the neighbourhood and be uplifted by it, while not adversely effecting the neighbourhood.
But it’s risky. If the selected family turns out not to be a safe one or if their progeny regresses to the mean, they could start causing trouble, starting a downward spiral that drives safe people out, lowers home prices, and brings unsafe people, turning the neighbourhood into an unsafe one. As well, if the voucher families are not dispersed enough, they could come into contact and feed into each others’ weaknesses and start the downward spiral, even if one family alone might not.
But either way, the second method is, of course, is not going to happen. To select safe individuals and not select unsafe individuals is discrimination and discrimination is evil.