It's The Criminals, Stupid! 2

Our government protects thugs from law-abiding poor people.

The first article in this series discussed a Harvard study which appeared in Science News.  The study pointed out that a disproportionate amount of crime and imprisonment comes from relatively few neighborhoods which have become "incarceration hot spots."

Chicago crime data for 1990 to 1995 show that a large majority of prison and jail populations came from two poor, black sections of the city.

Responding to the usual liberal mantra that blighted neighborhoods cause crime, housing projects which had been built at great public expense were torn down and replaced at even greater expense.  Unfortunately, building nice new buildings didn't change the people who'd lived in the old buildings.

But between 2000 and 2005, the geographic location of each incarceration hot spot in Chicago shifted slightly to the southwest as former public housing residents sought new homesIncarceration rates in the two new hot spots remained about the same as those in the old ones from a decade earlier, Sampson said.  [emphasis added]

The United States isn't the only nation where re-housing people leaves the situation unchanged at great expense - an MIT study reports the same phenomenon in Hong Kong:

...analysis of Hong Kong resettlement outcomes ... show ... almost all measures of living standards remained unchanged after the move from squatter dwellings to the new high-rise estate projects.

Hoods Take Over The 'Hood

When criminals moved out of the old housing projects, they took their criminal tendencies with them.  Formerly low-crime neighborhoods became "incarceration hot spots" as conservatives expected.

The Wall Street Journal reports that when federal authorities were embarrassed that crime rates in subsidized housing were 10 times the national average, they seized the excuse to spend a lot of money to scattered the residents.  Chicago isn't the only city where criminals from subsidized housing were spread all over town, but spreading criminals around other cities didn't work any better than in Chicago:

But the dispersal of public housing residents to quieter neighborhoods has failed to weed out the criminal element that made life miserable for most residents of the projects. "Homicide was simply moved to a new location, not eliminated," concluded University of Louisville criminologist Geetha Suresh in a 2009 article in Homicide Studies. In Louisville, Memphis, and other cities, violent crime skyrocketed in neighborhoods where Section 8 recipients resettled.  [emphasis added]

The Harvard study ended on a note of hope:  

Not all poor neighborhoods become incarceration hot spots, Sampson emphasized. In earlier research, he and his colleagues found a link between reduced violence in some poor Chicago areas and a willingness among neighbors to act as mentors to local children and otherwise intervene on behalf of the common good.  [emphasis added]

Consider their grounds for optimism:

  1. Not all poor neighborhoods become incarceration hot spots.  Therefore, the liberal claim that poverty inherently causes crime is provably untrue.
  2. Having adults mentor children and "intervene on behalf of the common good" reduces violence in neighborhoods.  An atmosphere of what used to be called "neighborliness" can overcome poverty, keep crime down, and help welfare children grow up to be productive adults.  In other words, neighborhood mentoring really can "break the cycle" of poverty, welfare, and criminality.

Neighborhoods become incarceration hot spots when adults either can't or won't intervene to promote the public good.  Unfortunately, our federal government organizes and manages subsidized housing projects to make it extremely difficult for the residents to do anything about the common good.

Why?  Because the government consistently upholds the disorderly against the orderly.

Can't Build Honestly, Can't Operate Honestly

The federal program which builds and operates subsidized housing is called Section 8.  The program has been plagued by criminal theft as contractors, Realtors, lawyers, and other luminaries cheat the government.  What happens once tenants move into the new projects appears to be more blinkered than criminal, but it's just as damaging to public order and to low income victims of federal housing policies.

The federal government can't operate housing projects any better than it can build them:

Indianapolis Housing Authority (IHA) linked 80% of criminal homicides in Marion County, Ind., to individuals fraudulently obtaining federal assistance "in either the public housing program or the Section 8 program administered by the agency."

This doesn't say merely that 80% of homicides were linked to people in Section 8 housing; it says that 80% of the homicides were linked to people living in Section 8 who should not have been there.  Illegal housing project residents cause more crime than legal residents.

The 5% of the population of Dubuque, Iowa, who lives in Section 8 housing accounts for 20% of the arrests.  Did the federal government offer help with this problem they'd inflicted on the city?

Dubuque's city government responded by trimming the size of the local Section 8 program. HUD retaliated by launching a "civil rights compliance review" of the program (final results pending).

The federal government has decided that criminals have a civil right to live in subsidized housing no matter what they do.

Most Section 8 residents are either black or Latino - as are most violent criminals.  It's easy to cry "racism" wherever anyone tries to bring order to the projects, particularly if they try to evict the bad actors.  HUD has accused the Cincinnati Housing Authority of racism in "eviction offenses such as loud music."

When Antioch, CA, formed a tenants association to help the housing authority curb violence and other problems, the local police department was sued for a "concerted and unlawful campaign to seek evidence which could lead to the termination of participants' Section 8 voucher benefits."

HUD claims that it violates residents' civil rights for law-abiding tenants to try to evict those who misbehave.  In effect, HUD is creating a new "right to misbehave" which applies to all residents of subsidized housing.  How can anyone "intervene on behalf of the common good" if they're going to be sued for violating a thug's civil rights?

Yet Another "Success" for the Administration

Our government not only allows criminals to steal when building subsidized housing, it lets thugs run the projects by granting them immunity.  Having demonstrated conclusively that spreading housing projects residents around by increasing rent subsidies transfers crime to formerly quieter neighborhoods, the administration has decided to waste yet more money and expand this misbegotten program of criminal relocation:

The Obama administration is now launching a pilot program giving local housing authorities wide discretion to pay higher rent subsidies to allow Section 8 beneficiaries to move into even more affluent zip codes.  {emphasis added]

Poor neighborhoods don't commit crimes, criminals commit crimes - aided and abetted by our friends the feds.  Government policies make it impossible for residents of subsidized housing to act like neighbors.  Under the tyrannical and destructive rule of our federal bureaucracy, there's nothing that good citizens can do to constrain thugs because they aren't permitted to "weed out the criminal elements."

The last article in this series discusses yet another government policy which makes things worse in fragile neighborhoods.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

What happened to the people living in Section 8 housing before it existed?

Why do people move to the city when they do not have the jobs skills to get a job in order to pay their own way?

Why do we as a people allow HUD and the federal government to create an environment for the "right to misbehave"?

Why do we as a people allow violent criminals to be allowed to be incarcerated in jails with white collar and lower level crime populations? Why are they not incarcerated in "hard time" with no a/c, gyms, tv, and forced to grow their own food if they want to eat?

There are answers to the above questions but no one wants to be the tough love person.

Will points out the problem, the criminals, the real problem however is the solution.

October 18, 2011 10:50 AM

@Bassboat - its' real simple. By putting up section 8 housing, the government established a market for bums. By making it attractive for hem to go there, they attracted 'em. States that offer higher welfare payments get more welfare. If you build it, they will come. No surprise there.

October 18, 2011 5:56 PM


Since you have figured that out what would be your solution to the problem?

October 18, 2011 10:45 PM

@bassboat - go back to Biblical principles. The Bible assigns responsibility for charity to individuals and churches, NOT to the government. Government is supposed to be a terror to evil and uphold the good. It's supposed to provide a peaceful environment in which individuals and churches can prosper, rather like Rome did in the early days of the church, before the Roman government became so corrupt.

Given the fallen nature of man, Western welfare states reward idleness, subsidize bastardy, and promote fatherlessness, all of which are disastrous for society over time.

This is an old, old debate. England was warned that public welfare would be a disaster. The London riots show they were right, but nobody wants to learn the lesson.

October 19, 2011 7:06 AM


Boy have you misinterpreted what I said. That's ok, you don't know me and I obviously was not as clear as I should have been.

My questions were to provoke a debate on why the situation existed in Will's article. Perhaps I should answer my own questions and you will see that I am not for government handouts and am fervently for charity from individuals and churches. The government is using its form of charity called entitlements to enslave the population.

"What happened to the people living in Section 8 housing before it existed?"
Answer: they earned what they could and lived with relatives and local charity.

"Why do people move to the city when they do not have the jobs skills to get a job in order to pay their own way?"
Answer: They move there for the free housing and entitlements of the city.

"Why do we as a people allow HUD and the federal government to create an environment for the "right to misbehave"?"
Answer: Because we as a people don't want to be portrayed as insensitive, non-caring, afraid to confront evil, conservatives who don't want to face possible riots and the consequences of them. The jails are not big enough to incarcerate the mobs.

"Why do we as a people allow violent criminals to be allowed to be incarcerated in jails with white collar and lower level crime populations? Why are they not incarcerated in "hard time" with no a/c, gyms, tv, and forced to grow their own food if they want to eat?"
Answer: We should put the violent criminals, the totally incorrigible ones, in stockades, make them grow their own food if they want to eat and Have them build their own bunkhouses out of materials provided if they want shelter. Some people are cannot be rehabilitated.

"There are answers to the above questions but no one wants to be the tough love person."

There is not a reason as to why we as law abiding citizens should have to put up with thugs, murderers, thieves, rapists, etc. We need to take back our society and those who will not follow the laws need to be set aside with harsh living conditions. No a/c, tv, or gyms in prison.

As for charity it begins at home. I know of no one who would let a person starve, not be clothed, and helped to get back on their feet but as for the government doing it you get results like the Section 8 and criminals that we see today.

October 19, 2011 9:49 AM
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