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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Getting off the public housing merry-go-round

The richest 2% of people in the world own half the world's wealth, according to a new study. Obviously studies of this type can be politically motivated, but we are in any case a long ways away from every man sitting under his own vine and his own fig tree.

Is capitalism a problem or an answer for people trying to better their economic conditions?

If you live in public housing, what's the incentive to do more when your rent goes up as your earnings do? Came across this interesting piece about public housing in Greenwich, of all places, where they are trying new ways to lift people out of the public housing cycle.

When [one resident] took up a six-month temp job to help pay off $6,000 in student loans a few years ago, her rent leaped from $50 to $500 per month. She's held jobs as a cashier at Target and CVS, a sorter at the post office, hotel receptionist and packager at Federal Express. During those times, she often asked her eldest child, Joseph, now 16, to mind the four younger children.

'The kids don't complain but it gets hard,' she said. 'It's a small place here for us but everything can get mixed up so fast.'

Under the new program, participating residents see no rent increases. Instead, the housing authority itself antes up the additional money and puts those funds into an escrow account that participants may withdraw upon moving out of public housing.


Let's hope it works.

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