Safe, Affordable Housing

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.


  1. One other way. The neighborhood is controlled by safe outsiders who ruthlessly punish unsafe behavior. Poor black communities were not unsafe when the fear of the noose still existed.

  2. Coming from the New York area, I long assumed, without much reflection, that there was a connection between the bad behavior of public housing project dwellers and the huge impersonal architecture in which they were housed. Like Cabrini Green.

    Then I moved to California and noticed that even in places where you have miles of small single-family cottages on their own plot of ground, one storey, and lots of sunshine, –in LA for instance– the same behaviors were in play. It dawned on me –still then in my soon-to-be broken liberal trance– that the common denominator was the people.

    Put these people anywhere and they will produce the same results.

    Nothing I have seen in the intervening years has done anything other than validate and increase that insight’s truth.

  3. The real reason the “elite” want to push the “vibrants” into middle and upper middle class neighborhoods is to keep them out of their neighborhoods.

  4. Block busting white ethnic neighborhoods is old stuff, though. Goes back to the 60s. Martin Luther King in his trip to Chicago had rocks thrown at him by Poles. They knew the score.

  5. “Safe, affordable housing is an impossibility, because as soon as you make housing affordable, the type of people who make neighborhoods unsafe move in.”

    I really have to start collecting some of these quotes that I read.

  6. Our current President (Barrock Hussen Obama), before he became president, lamented over the fact of “white flight” from the cities and taking their wealth / taxes with them.

    Everyone knows why we left the cities. It was more than just leaving for a safer environment. They escaped bad governmental policies and continual bad choices dictated to them. They desired freedom from the oppressive classes tyranny over choice.

    The utopians all believe their mass transient big city dream will work given enough of your money. You are screwing up their plans. How dare you. So time to punish you for your privilege. Of course they just want complete control over you and your err their income.

    Look who runs most large cities and how they restrict freedom for your own good. Why wont you participate? How dare you for not joining our utopia!

    You evil “white flighters” with your evil privilege.

    Good thing I have a big yard and (big white privileged) fences (40 acres worth).

  7. Leftists operate on the Radon Theory of Prosperity – a classic reversal of cause and effect. To them, prosperity simply seeps out of the ground in certain geographical areas, just like radon gas seeps out of the ground and into peoples’ basements. If we take crackheads, single moms with eight welfare babies, muggers, panhandlers, and dindus (Or do I repeat myself?) and put them into nice houses in quiet suburban neighborhoods, Prosperity Radon will seep out of the ground and irradiate them until they all get Master’s degrees, learn C++, and go off to start up the next Facebook (BTW, what’s with the fetish for that? One Facebook is quite enough, thanks!)

    I’m probably the only person you’ll ever meet who has lived both in Sanford, FL (were Trayvon Martin was shot) and in Ferguson, MO. Sanford has always been a shithole, but when I lived in Ferguson a decade ago, it was still pretty nice (though visibly starting to get worse). The dindu tipping point (or, as the guys at TRS call it, “Peak Negro”) was just starting to happen as I left. You saw the results on your TV screens – angry mobs of blacks smashing and burning what still had the outward appearance of a prosperous, quiet suburb. But not for much longer – five years from now, the place will look like Detroit or Camden. No Prosperity Radon seeped out of the soil of Ferguson, nor has it anyplace else, either.

    So the Radon Theory is visibly, laughably wrong, of course – but when did that ever stop the left from believing something?

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