Private Citizens Provide More Effective “Affordable Housing” Than Government

Private Citizens Provide More Effective “Affordable Housing” Than Government

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Reprinted from January 21, 2009 Current Newspapers of Atlantic County

Paradox: 1. a doctrine contrary to received opinion. 2. a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense, and yet is perhaps true. . . from the Greek word paradoxon meaning contrary to expectation.

Most people today think government should tax the “rich” to help the “poor”. They think politicians who do this are “progressive” and compassionate. Those who don’t are seen as selfish and old-fashioned.

But the opposite is true. Government “help” for the poor usually does far more harm than good. Look what 60 years of welfare handouts did to the Palestinians! Politicians like Governor Corzine use government money (not their own) to buy votes and increase their personal power. They benefit when more people are poor and dependent on their “kindness”.

Recently, our daily newspaper published this story of a poor woman’s search for “affordable housing”. Four years ago, a 58 year old “retired secretary” applied for subsidized housing when her Ventnor apartment “was condemned”.

She earned $700 a month from social security. There was no mention of disability, so I assume she collected a widow’s benefit. Her 35 year old son did unskilled work AT a local business.

For the next four years, she and her son “lived in motels. . . because rent is so expensive, we couldn’t get enough money together to get out of the motel scene”.

A short time ago, the son died. Now the woman can no longer afford the $920 per month motel room. The headline of the story suggested that this was a problem only government could fix: “Affordable-housing process would try anyone’s patience. . . 10 years to obtain a government-subsidized unit.”

State government defines “affordable” housing as costing less than 30% of income. And it assumes only government can give it–by taxing all new construction at 2.5%, so 100,000 government housing units can be built.

But this kind of “affordable housing” is just another Ponzi scheme. It works great at first when government taxes 99% of the people to give “affordable housing” to the other 1%. But as more people get “affordable” units, there are fewer to pay for them. When 90% pay extra on their homes for the other 10%, a lot of that 90% can no longer afford their homes, so now they demand and get help from the government. Soon there is 80% paying for 20%, and so on.

In the end, only a handful of the rich (with government jobs, contracts, or monopolies) will afford their own homes, while everyone else will need “help” from the “kindness of strangers” in government to live in a decent house or apartment–just like in the old Soviet Union.

Government in New Jersey is already so expensive that a lot of people pay more than 30% of their income for property taxes, even when we gave them a house for free!

But without government help, where can that poor woman live? Here are some ideas.

Maybe this 62 year old “retired secretary” can work to supplement her social security. In the summer, most shore businesses are desperate for help. Also, many elderly people pay live-in companions to help them cook, clean, and shop. Often free room and board is offered as part of the deal.

There are many “empty-nest” homeowners with extra bedrooms, who would welcome a boarder to help with mortgage and tax payments. And, if the woman has no close friends and family in the area, she can take a bus or plane to Florida for less than $100.

I own a fully furnished and renovated one bedroom apartment in Century Village, in West Palm Beach, Florida. I have been trying to rent it out for $550 per month through both a broker and for $550 per month for the past three months. The rent includes TV cable, free buses through much of Palm Beach, free movies, 5 swimming pools, a health club, and dozens of other free activities from sailing to shuffleboard. But there are dozens of listings for even better deals!

Liberty, not politics brings prosperity. Our media, schools, and politicians should promote these common sense solutions, instead of breaking the backs of taxpayers to build new “affordable” housing. Let’s change zoning laws and make more efficient use of the housing we already have.

When I was a kid, there was almost no government housing. But everyone could find a house or apartment somewhere for 25% of their income-and most moms didn’t work.

For more information, visit or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at or 609-927-7333. Seth Grossman hosts a two way talk radio program every Saturday from 8am – 9am on WVLT Vineland, 92.1 FM.

  • Seth Grossman

    Seth Grossman is executive director of Liberty And Prosperity, which he co-founded in 2003. It promotes American liberty and limited constitutional government through weekly radio and in-person discussions, its website, email newsletters and various events. Seth Grossman is also a general practice lawyer.

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