The following is an editorial from The Roswell Beacon, in my hometown of Roswell, GA, about Government Housing and poverty.

Heeding the words of President Bush, who spoke from New Orleans days after Hurricane Katrina struck, we have a duty to confront poverty with bold action. There is a connection between poverty and government housing, but evidence shows housing subsidies actually help promote work among those with low-incomes when they are combined with plans to relieve their condition. In other words, government housing helps break the cycle of poverty, it doesn’t exacerbate it.

A study by the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, which drew statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation and other works, found employment and earnings increase more among residents of public and subsidized housing than among poor families not receiving housing assistance. The reasons for this vary. One explanation is affordable housing stabilizes the lives of low income families, allowing them to secure and retain jobs while freeing up money for work-related expenses like transportation and childcare.

There is also evidence to suggest housing vouchers can serve as stepping stones for families to move to areas with greater job opportunities. A study by the Moving to Opportunity program, using test cases in Baltimore, showed families using such means to relocate from public housing in poor neighborhoods to communities where the poverty rate is 10 percent or less experienced a decline in their rate of welfare receipt.

The Roswell area, however, has suffered a loss of affordable housing for low-income individuals and families as areas are ‘redeveloped”, and “Workforce Housing” is replaced by more expensive units, forcing some into even more difficult economic times. As a result, Barbara Duffy, executive Director of North Fulton Community Charities, has seen demand for her services increase as low-income housing has decreased.

“The first thing is to recognize that there is a need for affordable housing,” Mrs. Duffy says.

So, what else can be done to reduce generational poverty in Roswell and across the country? Low-income housing is a start. Add increased access to public education to the mix so people can obtain necessary job skills. Offer them affordable healthcare so they don’t have to choose between a routine medical procedure and food for their family. Enact a minimum wage increase so people can actually afford the necessities of life. Expand the earned income tax credit, which Ronald Reagan heralded as “the best anti-poverty measure to come out of Congress” and which reduced poverty substantially during Bill Clinton’s two terms in office. Finally, recognize the role local charities, private contractors, and religious groups can play in assisting individuals and families to take control of their own destiny. Government can and must be pivotal in the process but it can’t be the sole solution.

(For Centrist news and opinion, visit DonkeyDigest)

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