Housing Vouchers: Equal Opportunity Crime-Sharing


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has adopted housing vouchers as a way to finance families’ escape from the inner city. The program is described here. It is part of a much larger program. HUD has launched a comprehensive program to move inner-city residents into the suburbs. HUD will do this at taxpayers’ expense. The story is here.

The city of Memphis adopted this strategy in the mid-1990s. The statistical results began to be evident in 2005, the year I moved from Arkansas to just south of Memphis on the Mississippi side of the city line. Guess what happened to the crime rate in suburban Memphis — neighborhoods often occupied by middle-class blacks. You don’t need to guess. You know. The story is here.


A voucher is a government subsidy to people who are economic failures. This is the bottom line, but with no sugar coating. The voucher system is another welfare state program. It takes money from successful people, turns it over to unsuccessful people, thereby allowing unsuccessful people to buy into a little of the lifestyle of successful people, but without becoming middle class.

A voucher is a government subsidy of a specific kind. It is a partial subsidy. In the language of economic theory, it is a subsidy at the margin. It allows a few people living on the bad side of town to rent or buy on the better side of town. I use the word “town” as a substitute for “lifestyle.” The bigger the federal program, the more people there are who can buy into the preferred lifestyle.

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