June 21, 2008

Section 8 Vouchers and Crime Correlated; Expect Media Indifference

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:30 am

Give Hanna Rosin at The Atlantic Online credit for investigating something most journalists wouldn’t even think of touching. Her article is a long read, but an important one.

Rosin’s report out of Memphis (HT Instapundit) chronicles how a criminologist husband and his housing-expert wife made a correlation that makes so much sense, you just know it will encounter fierce resistance from media and political elites (bolds are mine):

(Richard) Janikowski might not have managed to pinpoint the cause of this pattern (of spreading crime) if he hadn’t been married to Phyllis Betts, a housing expert at the University of Memphis. ….. Betts had been evaluating the impact of one of the city government’s most ambitious initiatives: the demolition of the city’s public-housing projects, as part of a nationwide experiment to free the poor from the destructive effects of concentrated poverty. Memphis demolished its first project in 1997. The city gave former residents federal “Section 8” rent-subsidy vouchers and encouraged them to move out to new neighborhoods. Two more waves of demolition followed over the next nine years, dispersing tens of thousands of poor people into the wider metro community.

If police departments are usually stingy with their information, housing departments are even more so. Getting addresses of Section 8 holders is difficult, because the departments want to protect the residents’ privacy. Betts, however, helps the city track where the former residents of public housing have moved. Over time, she and Janikowski realized that they were doing their fieldwork in the same neighborhoods.

About six months ago, they decided to put a hunch to the test. Janikowski merged his computer map of crime patterns with Betts’s map of Section 8 rentals. ….. the match was near-perfect. On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section 8 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.

Betts remembers her discomfort as she looked at the map. The couple had been musing about the connection for months, but they were amazed—and deflated—to see how perfectly the two data sets fit together. She knew right away that this would be a “hard thing to say or write.” Nobody in the antipoverty community and nobody in city leadership was going to welcome the news that the noble experiment that they’d been engaged in for the past decade had been bringing the city down, in ways they’d never expected. But the connection was too obvious to ignore, and Betts and Janikowski figured that the same thing must be happening all around the country. Eventually, they thought, they’d find other researchers who connected the dots the way they had, and then maybe they could get city leaders, and even national leaders, to listen.

If the reaction of Robert Lipscomb, the head of the Memphis Housing Authority, is any indication, that’s going to be a long slog:

“You’ve already marginalized people and told them they have to move out,” he told me irritably, just as he’s told Betts. “Now you’re saying they moved somewhere else and created all these problems? That’s a really, really unfair assessment. You’re putting a big burden on people who have been too burdened already, and to me that’s, quote-unquote, criminal.”

What’s “quote-unquote, criminal” is that someone who sees the facts in front of his face (and I would surmise, really knows better) won’t acknowledge their existence.

Old Media reports have typically made those objecting to Section 8 appear “racist” and “paranoid” for expressing concerns that it would spread out the crime problem. In Memphis, and I suspect elsewhere, it turns out that they had a point. Some opponents vilified in the press would seem to have an apology due them. Good luck getting it — and in getting anyone else in Old Media interested in investigating the Section 8 crime-export problem elsewhere.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

New Pajamas Media Column (‘Barack’s Social Security A-Bama-Nation’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up at BizzyBlog on Monday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Excerpt of the Morning: On Dems v. Bush

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:05 am

From Politico.com:

PoliticoOnCongressVbush0608

Hmm. I wonder if that turnaround has anything do with that party’s selection of the candidate I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) as its presidential nominee?

I have a guaranteed solution for restoring the Democrats’ lead: In the polling question, ask who is “the stronger leadership farce in Washington.”

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UPDATE: The Gallup detail:

GallupConfidenceInstitutions0608

Positivity: Neighbours hail hero who pinned down burglars

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:58 am

From suburban London:

13 June 2008

A PENSIONER has thanked a builder for confronting a burglar outside her Hampstead home while she was undergoing a heart operation.

Diana Schofield, 78, was having a pacemaker fitted on the morning of May 29. While she was in hospital, burglars broke into her home in Prince Arthur Road.

After setting off the burglar alarm they tried to escape, but were confronted by the hulking figure of builder Jason Hughes.

“I just did what anyone else would,” said Mr Hughes, 28 who works for Connect Engineering Solutions. “There were two people already trying to hold the guy but he was struggling so I helped pin him down. The burglars must have known the people who lived there were out while the lady was in hospital – they’re scum for doing something like that.”

Mrs Schofield, who is recovering from her operation, thinks the burglars climbed in through an open bathroom window.

“I don’t know what they were intending to steal because I don’t have a big television and I’m not on the internet,” she said. “Perhaps they wanted to start an antiques shop. When the alarm went off my neighbour sounded the alarm and that’s when all the builders came to the rescue. I must go and thank them.”

Sgt Philip Hewetson from Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhood Police Team commended Mr Hughes – known as Jay – for his efforts.

“This was an excellent example of community spirit and the builders did an excellent job – it’s really appreciated,” he said. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.