The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson is stepping down today. This is welcome news for America's homeless and those living in subsidized housing. He came in with such promise as a former Public Housing Director and then proceeded to dismantle public housing in the United States. Jackson just did not understand this job, and became the worst HUD secretary in the 40 some year history of the post. Here are some lowlights of his career:
- His biggest failure is New Orleans rebuilding. He eliminated public housing in New Orleans and has yet to build back any subsidized property. The one bright spot is that when people say we need smaller government and there is no reason to have a strong government we can point to New Orleans as the outcome of this policy. Government can rebuild a community like we did after the San Francisco earthquake unless we have neutered the government to the point that it is no longer able to function.
- He rewarded his friends and tried to punish those who disagreed. He bragged about withdrawing a contract from a contractor who had complained about Bush. He also held the Philadelphia Housing Authority hostage until they rewarded a piece of property to his friend.
- He attempted to starve public housing agencies to death.
- He left us with nearly $3 billion in underfunding in the Section 8 Project Based Housing program leaving hundreds of thousands of building owners scrambling to figure out how to pay their mortgages. This is a problem that the next administration will have to address.
- He was asleep at the wheel with regard to the foreclosure crisis. HUD owned property from foreclosed housing are mounting in most communities, and the HUD Secretary was baffled by the problem.
- Because of the foreclosure crisis and housing instability, tax credit projects in the United States are teetering. These projects make housing slightly more affordable to lower income people then the market. It is less attractive for investors to put money into these properties with the housing market in decline. Again, we heard the crickets chirping from the HUD building in DC when we asked about these problems in our local community.
- He pushed this silly and offensive "chronic" homeless initiative on the rest of the country while at the same time reducing affordable housing to families. Jackson pushed for cutting the homeless funding pie among more groups without increasing the size of the pie. In a time of increased homelessness this only lengthened the stay in shelters by those populations not in style anymore like families and non-disabled adults.
- He has refused to take a position on any pending bill in Congress as announced at the Cleveland City Club discussion from a couple of weeks ago.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board