Sunday, June 01, 2014

Public housing by any other name

We all know how affirmative action became diversity and global warming morphed into climate change. Environmental restrictions became sustainability and the gatekeepers of racial and sexual propriety have decreed, cancelled and reformulated a vast etiquette of how to refer to a racial and other minorities.

Here's the latest. Last week's Journal Sentinel featured the following headline:

$ 10 million complex bolsters Milwaukee's supportive housing

What is "supportive housing?"

According to the article, it turns out to be mean that the building's "units will be subsidized and that no resident will be paying more than 30% of his or her income for rent."

We used to call that public housing. Why the change in terminology?

I suspect it is because the old term has come to have negative connotations. Public housing concentrates very low income people who, for a variety of reasons, neighbors will fear aremore likely to engage in anti-social behavior or who, in fact, may actually engage in such behavior having an adverse impact on the surrounding area.

We can argue about whether this really happens or whether the fears are reasonable. We can think of ways to respond to this real or exaggerated problem. But changing the name won't accomplish anything.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.

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