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The Left's Newest (Old) Idea: Let's Build More Public Housing!

Failed leftist ideas never die. They always return, clothed in new arguments in the hope no one will recognize them. And that’s where we are now—with public housing.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Fantasyland) are proposing a “Green New Deal” for housing.
Politico Playbook writes, “Ocasio-Cortez says that the aim of the legislation is to ‘reimagine and reinvigorate public housing in the United States’ while addressing ‘many of the environmental injustices that public housing residents have faced.’”
The bill seeks to repeal the 1998 Faircloth amendment, which “effectively blocked the Department of Housing and Urban Development from funding new public housing.” Actually, there have been several impediments to the government building more public housing, but the amendment plays a role.
But the real reason we stopped building new public housing units—and the reason the Faircloth amendment passed a Republican Congress and was signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton—is they were such a dismal failure.
Public housing concentrates thousands of low-income families in a specific area. There are never enough jobs nearby for all the tenants. So, they must travel significant distances to get to the jobs, which may not be an option for many.
In addition, crime and substance abuse tend to grow dramatically, driving employers with good-paying jobs even further from public housing units.
Public housing units in several major cities eventually became crime-ridden blights on the land—dangerous, mismanaged eyesores, trapping low-income families and exacerbating their challenges.
As Howard Husock, writing for the Manhattan Institute’s “City Journal” pointed out 20 years ago, “Public housing spawns neighborhood social problems because it concentrates together welfare-dependent, single-parent families, whose fatherless children disproportionately turn out to be school dropouts, drug users, non-workers, and criminals.”
As a result, cities have been bulldozing the old, ugly dilapidated units. The National Low-Income Housing Association wrote four years ago, “Throughout the nation, public housing is in pretty rough shape. The Public Housing Capital Fund, which Congress provides to pay for repairs, has been underfunded for so long that we now lose more than 10,000 public housing apartments each year because they are no longer habitable.”
As you can see from this quote, progressives tend to blame public housing’s failure on inadequate government funding. But there are complaints of inadequate funding wherever the government is involved, whether it’s public housing, welfare, education, infrastructure, health care, national defense, retirement income, just to name a few.
The twist on the Green New Deal for public housing is the units would be built with expensive union labor and include some environmentally friendly elements. Of course, the building contractors would be big Democratic donors.
The fact is, liberals always think that they can make their big-government schemes work if given the chance and an endless blank check. Fortunately, it’s unlikely Republicans in Congress will give them either.