Dubuque isn’t liking AFFH; neither will the rest of America

I wrote here about how the federal government, pursuant to its Affirmative Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) agenda, is forcing the city of Dubuque, Iowa to provide low-income housing to residents of Chicago. As in almost all of my writing about AFFH, I relied on the reporting of my friend Stanley Kurtz.

In response to Kurtz’s article, Dubuque’s city manager stated that the article is “not an accurate representation of Dubuque’s situation.” “It’s talking about politics,” he said, “not. . .about the arrangement between HUD and the City of Dubuque.”

Actually, Stanley’s article talks about little other than the arrangement between HUD and the City of Dubuque. The city manager failed to cite any respect in which Stanley misstated this arrangement. The only specific disagreement any city official expressed was with Stanley’s characterization of Dubuque as as an “economically struggling city.”

But it doesn’t much matter if Dubuque is boom-town USA. It shouldn’t be forced by the federal government to provide low-income housing units that could be going to its residents for folks who live many miles away in another state.

For a more objective local analysis of Stanley’s article about Dubuque let’s turn to the city’s local newspaper — the Telegraph Herald. In an editorial called “National Review [in which Stanley’s article appeared] right about HUD,” it states:

Dubuque might not be the Mississippi River backwater town [Kurtz] depicts, but city officials are at the mercy of the federal government when it comes to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

When HUD blasted the city’s approach to revamping the Section 8 voucher program in Dubuque, local officials entered into a compliance agreement with HUD. That agreement required the city to abandon its system for treating local applicants preferentially and expand its voucher program to reach out to minority populations. Progress had to be reported regularly to the federal government. Failing to do so would mean losing out on HUD money.

In fiscal 2015, the City of Dubuque counted on HUD for $6.1 million, including $1.3 million in Community Development Block Grants. Trying to replace a $6 million hole in a budget the size of Dubuque’s would mean significant cuts to programs and services. This is the rock and hard-place bookends between which the federal government places the city.

And seeks to place countless other cities and towns throughout the United States.

So Kurtz is right on the facts about AFFH in Dubuque. What is the Telegraph-Herald’s opinion of the situation?

In the real world, we would call that blackmail. In government, it’s business as usual.

City of Dubuque officials are in a far better position than Washington bureaucrats to know how many housing vouchers the city can successfully monitor. Yet HUD demanded that the city issue more vouchers, even when local officials didn’t think that was the best course, and the federal government doesn’t have the money for them. What sense does that make?

None, unless your agenda is a massive, racially motivated federal intrusion on the right of local self-governance.

The editorial concludes on an ominous note:

Another point Kurtz gets right is the strange circumstance HUD’s system creates. The portability of vouchers in the Section 8 program creates a huge incentive for someone to move from a metropolitan area like Chicago, where the voucher waiting list is ridiculously long, into a town such as Dubuque. That creates consequences Dubuquers know only too well.

This is what’s in store for America’s cities and localities unless they refuse to accept HUD grants.

Dubuque happens to be a Democratic stronghold. But in light of the Telegraph Herald’s editorial and all the mail Stanley’s getting from angry Dubuque residents, Stanley sees signs of a shifting political wind.

Stanley concludes:

AFFH is also going to pose a significant political risk to the Democratic Party once word of its consequences gets out. Dubuque is turning on Obama’s HUD, and soon enough America will, too.

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