Friday, January 03, 2014

First World Problems

The government won't pay the rent when I’m on extended vacation to other continents.

Sad, but true, as reported by MinnPost:

Seniors in the district struggle with housing. For example, Somali senior citizens in Cedar Riverside receive rental support from the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. They have been complaining about a pesky policy that prevents them from having an extended leave to visit their relatives in Africa.

This appears to be one of those situations where responsible public policy was dependent on a certain shared understanding of human behavior.  Namely, the provision of public housing was for the indigent, otherwise known as those who can't afford to travel to far off continents for extended visits. Secondly, those who have family willing to put them up for extended visits would prefer to live with that family permanently rather than have the government pay for their housing.

Apparently, these assumptions no longer apply in the present day.

I’m no expert in Minneapolis public housing policies, but this seems to be the operative interpretation of current law:

HUD approved the Absence from Unit Initiative as an amendment to MPHA’s 2011 MTW Plan. This initiative would preserve the rent obligation for residents who have a temporary loss of income related to an extended absence from the unit defined as 30 days or more. For example, a tenant may quit a job to be away from the unit or have their government benefits terminated because of travel outside of the country. This voluntary action results in a loss of income and consequently, a reduction in rent. MPHA believes such voluntary action should not result in increased Federal expenditures to support this family.  

Hats off to those ”pesky” bureaucrats for attempting to enforce common sense rules for doling out rent subsidies.  Alas, the prognosis for this little slice of governmental wisdom is murky.  Again, from MinnPost:

Rep. Karen Clark from neighboring district in the south was making inquiries on their behalf.

In other words, coming soon, taxpayer subsidized month-long vacations.  Only in America.