The particular mechanism in AFFH is the federal imposition of subsidized housing on previously livable suburbs, to be occupied by residents imported from the inner cities and clutching Section 8 housing vouchers.
Except sometimes, it’s not really suburbs, unless one considers Dubuque, Iowa—on the west bank of the Mississippi—a suburb of Chicago, 200 miles away, with a lot of soybean and corn fields in between. Stanley Kurtz wrote about Dubuque’s victimization early this year:
Having previously accepted HUD [i.e. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] funding through the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program, as well as HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, Dubuque was formally obligated to “affirmatively further fair housing” in whatever way HUD defined that obligation. Refusal to submit to HUD’s dictates would have led to the withdrawal of federal funding, a lawsuit for supposed discrimination, or both. The cowed elected officials of Dubuque accordingly signed a “voluntary” (in truth, forced) consent agreement that effectively ceded control of the city’s housing policy to HUD for at least five years.Kurtz, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is the go-to expert on AFFH, warning about its approach from several years before the administration issued its final rule on the matter.
Under HUD’s detailed oversight, Dubuque must now actively recruit Section 8 voucher holders from the Chicago area. In fact, as of January 2015, the percentage of African-American voucher users in Dubuque was larger than the percentage of African-Americans living in Chicago.
[How Obama Stole Dubuque, National Review Online, January 13, 2016]
The expectable consequences of AFFH were previewed in The Atlantic back in 2008. Paul Kersey referred to Hanna Rosin’s article [American Murder Mystery, July-August 2008], but he didn’t use its smoking-howitzer quote. This involves Richard Janikowski and Phyllis Betts, a married couple who are professors of criminology and sociology, respectively, at the University of Memphis [Tennessee]. Over time, Janikowski had put together a map of crime patterns in Memphis while Betts was plotting Section 8 housing units on another map of the city.
Here then is the Atlantic article’s paragraph-for-the-ages (or, at least, for future archaeologists picking over the shards of American civilization):
Janikowski merged his computer map of crime patterns with Betts’s map of Section8 rentals. Where Janikowski saw a bunny rabbit, Betts saw a sideways horseshoe (“He has a better imagination,” she said). Otherwise, the match was near-perfect. On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section8 addresses are represented by little red dots. All of the dark-blue areas are covered in little red dots, like bursts of gunfire. The rest of the city has almost no dots.As so often, Thomas Sowell was ahead of the game, writing in 2005 about the impacts of Memphis-style policies on established residents of good neighborhoods:
Among the most unconscionable attempts to unsort people who have sorted themselves out by behavior are government programs to relocate people into neighborhoods where they could not afford to live without subsidies. Often the people in those neighborhoods have sacrificed for years in order to be able to live where they could raise their children in decent surroundings and not have to live in fear of hoodlums — only to have the government import the bad neighbors and hoodlums they have tried so hard to escape.That’s the kind of insight—and memorable expression of it—that we’ve learned to expect from “our greatest contemporary philosopher.”
Both kinds of people may be of the same race but that does not make the consequences any less painful or the resentments any less bitter. Blacks as well as whites have objected to having problem people thrust into their midst through housing subsidies or government housing projects being built in their neighborhoods.
Almost never do the social experimenters relocate dysfunctional and dangerous people into their own elite neighborhoods. They unsort other people’s neighborhoods and embitter other people’s lives.
[What Flight?, Real Clear Politics, November 24, 2005]