Obama's Scheme to Kill Public Housing and Give the Land to Banks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For the Obama administration, every bit of public space and property is "on the table" - subject to privatization.  Transfer of public wealth to private hands seems a White House obsession. Next on the auction block: the nation's public housing stock. "This is gentrification and urban displacement on a gargantuan scale."

 

Obama's Scheme to Kill Public Housing and Give the Land to Banks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Obama would entrust the fates of millions of poor people to the tender mercies of the same criminal-minded class that has destroyed a generation and more of Black homeowners."

President Obama's greatest domestic imperative is the transfer of public wealth and resources to the private sector. He moved tens of trillions of dollars to Wall Street in the guise of rescuing the economy. Hundreds of billions in public funds are scheduled for transfer to private insurance corporations over the next decade or so, masquerading as a health care plan. His support for corporate-backed charter schools and other so-called public-private partnerships has dramatically escalated the privatization of education in the United States. Obama calls it a "Race to the Top." Now, the Obama administration is serving up to corporate vultures the nation's dwindling stock of public housing, with bankers as the ultimate beneficiaries.

The plan is slick, but easy enough to see through - like the president, himself.  Dubbed the Transforming Rental Assistance initiative, or TRA, the scheme would allow banks and other speculators to mortgage public housing, and then raise the rents to ten percent above market value.  The federal government would make up the difference, pumping the people's money directly into Wall Street accounts. Eventually, of course, the feds will halt or cut back payments, and the properties will revert to the bankers, who will sell them to developers and kick out the tenants. This is gentrification and urban displacement on a gargantuan scale - brought to you by the First Black President.

Imagine! Obama wants to transfer to banks and developers tens of thousands of acres of public-owned urban property - home to 1.2 million families, disproportionately Black and brown - all the while subsidizing the banksters' profits with billions of taxpayer dollars. He would entrust the fates of millions of poor people to the tender mercies of the same criminal-minded class that has destroyed a generation and more of Black homeowners and displaced legions of Black renters from the gentrifying cities.

"The scheme would allow banks and other speculators to mortgage public housing, and then raise the rents to ten percent above market value."

Obama wants to transform public housing into a Section 8 subsidy program. That is the kiss of death. Section 8 housing has always been underfunded. In New York City, alone, 10,000 Section 8 voucher holders may not be able to pay their rent because the feds won't come up with the funding.

When public housing defaults on payments to the bankers under the Obama scheme, it will be a second bonanza for Wall Street - which is how billions are made in an economy ruled by parasites who create nothing, but charge a fee for everything.

Those are Obama's kind of people. I'm not just talking about the mega-banks and hedge-funders that backed him to the hilt in his presidential campaign. Obama's closest cronies and former clients from Chicago - including senior advisor Valerie Jarret - made their fortunes milking government subsidized housing programs for the poor until the federal government had to step in and pick up the pieces.

If Obama has his way, speculators will descend on all 3,000 of the nation's public housing agencies, bribing every official in sight in a frenzy of corruption over federal land and subsidies. And the poor will start counting the days before they are put out in the street.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
[email protected].