men in power + women in need = bad
December 3, 2004 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Meet the Landlord. Mr. Bobby Veal, a class act guy, decides to harass and rape mothers living alone on Section 8. Oh, but it gets better, when they refused sex and began to complain, he'd evict them, change the locks and keep their furniture inside. Even after an eventual trial and conviction, what are the women doing now? Living in cars, furniture stolen by Mr. Veal and waiting for the court settlement that many believe will never come. Poverty ain't pretty.
posted by geoff. (61 comments total)

 
That link should probably be corrected to this.
posted by cmonkey at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2004


Man, this story just keeps getting better and better. It has everything. The mom on welfare. The perverted landlord who leers at the children. The government assistant who tells one woman to "get a job and you can move."

A quick aside, anyone with experience in Section 8 or other housing care to say how rampant the "get a job if you don't like this" attitude is? It's almost so cliche I would have not thought people really say it.

The article also makes me wonder why they don't teach rudimentary law to elementary and high school students. This would not be such a problem if the women had not been ignorant of their rights as tenants. Not to lay the blame on the women, but the lack of general knowledge of their rights is both sad and appalling.
posted by geoff. at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2004


Do'h! I meant to change that, it got lost in the copy and pasting.
posted by geoff. at 12:47 PM on December 3, 2004


Hey, this guy needs to run for a political office! He'd make a great Republican! :-)
posted by nofundy at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2004


Section 8 = insanity...

Irony, anyone?
(Tell me I'm not the only M*A*S*H fan here.)
posted by BradNelson at 12:58 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


nofundy: BOOOOO.
posted by xmutex at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2004


Knowledge of the law would be helpful, but possibly not very.

Even with the law on their side, the women might not want to risk getting evicted while they wait for the law to act (sort of like what is happening now).

And they also will have to put their Section 8 word up against the word of a landlord. They might not like their chances with that.
posted by flarbuse at 1:01 PM on December 3, 2004


try the veal!
posted by quonsar at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


nofundy - you're an idiot, take it elsewhere.

At the time, then-23-year-old (pregnant mother of three) Owsley was in a welfare-to-work program, she was newly pregnant and didn't have a high school diploma.

Taking nothing away from what a bastard this landlord was, let me just quote Chris Rock: "Bitch, stop fucking!"
posted by jonson at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2004


Someone needs to meet this guy in a dark alley and give him some counseling.
posted by Ignition at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


She testified that he raped her a second time, this time in front of her daughter. It lasted about 15 minutes. Then Veal got up and left.

and

Owsley tells the Pitch. "I lost my boys' bunk-bed set, my daughter's bed and dollhouse, my baby's crib, the TV and VCRs, movies, clothes, shoes, the kids' bikes, my brand-new leather coat I had laid away in the summer when it was cheap. He took a lot of the stuff I had worked hard to get." At the time, Owsley sometimes worked a double shift at Hollywood Video so she could buy extra things for her children.

So much for the "work harder get out of Section 8."

I'd love to see a conservative opinion on this. I'm no saying Republicans or conservatives caused these events to happen, obviously Mr. Veal was acting as an individual. Still it is foolish to deny general Republican sentiment that the poor are victims of their own laziness. What more could these people, and many like them, have done? They had no family money to rely on, only what literally was on their backs.
posted by geoff. at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2004


(scrolls through artifle, laughs at sidebar) Um, this article is a good argument against having Nerve Personals on every page of an online paper! :o

"the story: well I was reading this great article on raping old women and then, at the bottom of it, staring right at me, was a picture of her, my soulmate ...we've been together ten years now."
posted by Peter H at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


that's article, not artifle, oop.
posted by Peter H at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2004


so, johnson, nofundy's an idiot but you can condemn a woman you don't even know based on the fact that she's 23, a mom and has no high school diploma? Maybe we should just gas her.
posted by spicynuts at 1:29 PM on December 3, 2004


Maybe we should just gas her.

chemical industry shill.
posted by quonsar at 1:32 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


spicynuts: Someone on welfare and three children should not be having another (let alone three to begin with). Godalmighty, have we completely forgone the concept of personal accountability?

Give me a break.
posted by xmutex at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2004


I fail to see what republicans/conservatives have to do with this.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:37 PM on December 3, 2004


I'm sorry to invoke Republicans/conservatives. I was reacting more to the women's plight and the "get over it" response they got, which I perhaps irresponsibly categorized as a conservative viewpoint.

And I'm trying to invoke a discussion without snarks, and throwaway comments.
posted by geoff. at 1:43 PM on December 3, 2004


you fail to see? well, i'm sure she was taught all about safe sex and condoms in school. yes. they have nothing to do with this at all.
posted by zaack at 1:46 PM on December 3, 2004


What the hell is wrong with the HUD lawyers? They should've been suing for an injunction the whole time -- "Stop doing this or we throw you in jail", not "pay this money that you'll probably hide anyway." What were they thinking? Bobby Veal should be SO in jail on contempt right now.

And now that they have the fraudulent transfer suit going, can't they get a preliminary injunction to attach that company's assets until the result comes down? In addition, they should be attaching whatever small pool of assets Veal DOES have. He can do a lot of (illegal) things to keep from paying these women, but the legal system can really, really make his life hell in the meantime.

Any Title VIII lawyers read this, and know why they might not have taken these steps already? Of course, the article is a bit slim on these points, maybe some of this is being done and we just don't know. The fundamental point about pre-screening section 8 landlords is probably still a good idea, regardless.
posted by rkent at 1:52 PM on December 3, 2004


so, nofundy's an idiot but you can condemn a woman you don't even know based on the fact that she's 23, a mom and has no high school diploma?

Yes, nofundy's an idiot. For a million other reasons, but most recently for suggesting that raping women qualifies one to be a Republican. But that's beside the point. I didn't condemn anyone, I just suggested she stop having sex, if only for the sake of the (as yet uncreated) fifth child that would have to grow up in poverty and misery.
posted by jonson at 1:56 PM on December 3, 2004


Someone on welfare and three children should not be having another (let alone three to begin with). Godalmighty, have we completely forgone the concept of personal accountability?

No, but that's not the issue here, is it? The issue is that she is the victim of multiple crimes and it looks like this guy is going to laugh all the way to the bank. Talk about personal accountability...
posted by cabingirl at 1:58 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


I fail to see what republicans/conservatives have to do with this.

Ditto. This is just a sad sick man.

on preview: you fail to see? well, i'm sure she was taught all about safe sex and condoms in school. yes. they have nothing to do with this at all.

I had explicit sex-ed in public school since 4th grade, and the teenage pregancy rate in Hawaii is in the top ten of the States. I am no fan of Republicans, but blaming this on them is a stretch at best.
posted by rooftop secrets at 1:59 PM on December 3, 2004


well, i'm sure she was taught all about safe sex and condoms in school.

Would that have been part of the no (reasonably affluent) child left (right wingers only) behind?

Grinding poverty sucks. People who take advantage of poor people suck as well. If you want to blame conservatives or red starters or whatever that is fine, but I didn't hear a whole heck of a lot from the other side about fixing this sort of thing. There isn't a political party that actually cares for anybody who can't donate to their campaign.
posted by Numenorian at 2:05 PM on December 3, 2004


See, no one is supposed to care about the people this asshat abuses because they're poor and probably don't vote.


Bobby Veal sounds like a peach of a guy, he should be drawn and quartered. And anyone who's looked the other way for him should be taken down as well. There's no way he's been able to do this without someone covering or letting him slide.
posted by fenriq at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


A quick aside, anyone with experience in Section 8 or other housing care to say how rampant the "get a job if you don't like this" attitude is? It's almost so cliche I would have not thought people really say it.

I administered a Section 8 program for a couple years in Boston. I would never say such a thing to any of my clients and the other managers there were extremely sensitive to the issues our clients faced.

I'll venture a guess that the woman who was told this was participating in the Section 8 Welfare to Work Voucher Program, which has specific guidelines that reqire a member of the family to pursue employment over a period of time. Not that this excuses the casewoker's behavior.

I am appalled that the Housing Authority ignored complaints about this landlord from so many people. I think that the H.A. where I worked would have had its legal team on that guy's ass in seconds.

By the way, I'm a democrat, as were about 99% of the people I worked with. This issue here is that a bunch of caseworkers didn't do their jobs and should be held accountable for it. Can't blame it on Republicans. The Welfare to Work program was passed during the Clinton Administration. I personally have issues with this program because it can leave a percentage of its participants as destitute as they were when they started whenever the economy dips.

If you want to blame the Republicans for something, blame them for making so many cuts to the Section 8 program, Hope IV Program, and for all the additional cuts to the Section 8 program they're planning to make during the next four years.
posted by sophie at 2:18 PM on December 3, 2004


I would just like to take a moment and say that I love my landlord. I live in a 4 unit building which he just bought and moved into with us last year. He's a young guy, who works as a builder for a living, and he takes good care of us and the place, and is totally nice about everything. And he doesn't rape me.
posted by scarabic at 2:18 PM on December 3, 2004


My wife works in an organization that helps low-income people find permanent housing. This used to involve a lot of section 8 vouchers, but that is getting less common as the federal government has cut back on the availability of section 8's.

A quick aside about the section 8 program: it provides housing vouchers to allow poor people to rent on the private market. The idea is to use the private market rather than creating public housing ("projects").

If you have a section 8 voucher, you can rent an average-cost apartment in your community. You pay 30% of your gross income towards rent, and the Feds pick up the rest.

Many of the people who my wife works with are people who cannot work. They are on federal disability, either because of physical or mental illness. These people receive $600 per month. So they pay $200 towards their rent, and they have $400 to cover all the rest of their expenses. Oh, and by the way, rent does not include utility payments, things like heat and electricity. Utilities need to come out of the remaining $400, along with food, clothes, etc.

The general threshold to qualify for section-8 is "30% of median area income." So if the median income is $45K per year, you could qualify if you earned about $14K or less. Many of the people my wife works with are the "working poor" like the woman in this article.

But of course, that's all theoretical at this point because there are no more section 8's being given out. The current administration is choking the program. (Just one more of the many thousands of things that don't make the front page.)

As for how Owsley was treated: I think the situation would have been unlikely where I live, in a big city deep in a blue state. There are enough resources for low-income people, especially around housing, that she likely would have gotten better help, known her rights better (in terms of fighting eviction, etc). But it sure does suck that it happened anywhere.
posted by alms at 2:20 PM on December 3, 2004


Another point to mention about Section 8 is that it is up to each landlord whether they will accept the voucher. In other words, a Section 8 recipient may want to rent apartment A, but the landlord may not accept Section 8 vouchers, thus the recipient must continue to look for a landlord who will accept the voucher.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:29 PM on December 3, 2004


As for how Owsley was treated: I think the situation would have been unlikely where I live, in a big city deep in a blue state. There are enough resources for low-income people, especially around housing, that she likely would have gotten better help, known her rights better (in terms of fighting eviction, etc). But it sure does suck that it happened anywhere.

I think alms is right. In Boston, almost all of my clients were familiar with Greater Boston Legal Services and lots of other resources. In Nebraska they seem to have similar services, but they're underfunded and not marketed very well.

Another point to mention about Section 8 is that it is up to each landlord whether they will accept the voucher. In other words, a Section 8 recipient may want to rent apartment A, but the landlord may not accept Section 8 vouchers, thus the recipient must continue to look for a landlord who will accept the voucher.

That depends on which state you live in. Federal Fair Housing laws do not protect voucher recipients from landlords refusing their vouchers, but some state Fair Housing laws do. In Massachusetts, recipients of housing assistance are considered a protected class.
posted by sophie at 2:38 PM on December 3, 2004


My experience with section 8 is somewhat different but equally sucky. I lived in a small apartment building with a very cool landlord who decided to rent to section 8. We discussed it and were all for it. A 50 year old woman moved in. A 50 year old Hells Angel biker chick on parole that is. The caseworker straight out lied about her situation and after 3 months of stepping over comatose men in my front porch and having bikers banging on my door at 4am to "talk" I moved. Everyone did and the landlord was left holding the bag with no help from the housing/ parole people at all. Being a nice guy he let me break my lease and everything. Our building was under constant police surveillance for over two months (ie a cruiser parked right out front) and still she was there.

What happened to these women is terrible but in a way doesn't surprise me, the whole program seemed really shoddily run IMHO.
posted by fshgrl at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2004


What a truly evil person -- destroying countless people's lives for his own gratification and then doing everything in his power to get out of it, while the law did, basically, nothing.

Generally I don't approve of people taking the law into their own hands but had he mysteriously died several years ago the world would be a better place.

BTW, the Village Voice runs their list of 10 worst landlords every year and some of them are as bad as this person... doing things like removing the stairs to force their tenants out. or that old urban staple, arson.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:52 PM on December 3, 2004


In Massachusetts, recipients of housing assistance are considered a protected class.

Wow, I had no idea that it was a state issue. Seriously, in MA a landlord can be forced to take Sec 8? That seems so strange to me.

In MN you do not have to take Sec 8. I'm a landlord and I will not take Sec 8 not because I don't want to rent to the recipients, but because I don't want the government up my ass, which is what happens once you get on the program. Also in MN, a landlord whose rental property is five units or less and the landlord lives on site, can descriminate against anyone because the landlord has a high degree of privacy interest.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2004


Juicylicious, it looks like you're okay. Here's a link to the jurisdictions that have this additional class under their Fair Housing Laws.

In Massachusetts, a lot of landlords would just reject my clients based on their credit or for some other (legal) reason.
posted by sophie at 3:31 PM on December 3, 2004


There isn't a political party that actually cares for anybody who can't donate to their campaign.

What about the Povertarian Party!? I understand they visit wealthy gated communities daily, broadcasting their message door to door, paid in soup to shovel holes by daylight in the backyard, water the plants and clean the toilets.

The Povertarian Party is truly a party who will speak to anyone, donation or no donation, if we'd only listen or ask. (impossible to not phrase this like a soapbox but you get my point)
posted by Peter H at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2004


My experience with section 8 is limited to having my neighbor rent his townhome to a section 8 family (I live in one of those charming gated communities, you see). Within a week, our formerly quiet, serene street was transformed. The new (section 8) tenants ignored fire safety regulations (by double parking), owned a savage pit bull that attacked several of my neighbor's dogs, enjoyed LOUD, erm, "urban" music more than the rest of us, and loved tooling around on one of those oh so quiet gas powered scooters. All my neighbors were very relieved when he finally evicted them. Our neighborhood returned to normal overnight. He had to replace ALL the doors in the house as they had been deadbolted shut, and then ripped from the hinges, as well as replace all the carpeting and repaint the house. They essentially destroyed his house in a matter of 3 months or so. I may be incorrect in saying this, but I believe that section 8 vouchers actually allow a landlord to rent a property at a premium over normal market rates, and that this had been his impetus for renting to a section 8 family. I do not think any premium he collected would have covered his losses though. This isn't really so much of a comment on this particular case as much as a "Section 8 has problems" post, but I figured I'd share my tale...
posted by stonesy at 3:54 PM on December 3, 2004


the whole program seemed really shoddily run IMHO
I'm sorry about your experience with the Section 8 recipient, but I think your landlord was a little naive to not run a criminal background check on her. He also could have evicted her, as he would for someone who was not receiving Section 8. He would have had a very good case, it seems. Section 8 administrators can take away someone's voucher for violating program rules, but can't remove them from their residence - that's the landlord's job.

I also don't know of a single housing authority that doesn't run a criminal background check on all applicants, rejecting any that have been arrested for violent or drug-related incidents, from breaking to more serious behavior. Of course, the applicant has the right to prove mitigating circumstances and housing authorities differ on leniency here.
posted by sophie at 3:56 PM on December 3, 2004


Here's a link to a similar story. From the article: "The Justice Department has brought civil action against Koch for allegedly demanding sexual favors from women tenants -- many of them low-income and desperate to find housing -- in lieu of such things as rent and security deposits."
posted by gigglesticks at 4:19 PM on December 3, 2004


I think you take a chance everytime you rent an apartment period. My mom is renting out her house, and every tenant she's had has ruined shit (in the thousand dollar range) in her place. She's on her third eviction. None of them were on Section 8.

In my program, I had almost 500 clients and there were a few who really fucked up and were evicted and had their vouchers taken away. But the majority were really good tenants. Please don't make sweeping generalizations about people on Section 8 because of one bad experience. If I had a place to rent, I'd accept Section 8 in a second - after doing a background check.

I may be incorrect in saying this, but I believe that section 8 vouchers actually allow a landlord to rent a property at a premium over normal market rates, and that this had been his impetus for renting to a section 8 family.

HUD determines the Fair Market Rents (which payment standards are based on) by using an automated telephone survey of renters in each area once year. The problem is that the FMRs are always a year behind the market, so if area rents go down, Section 8 payment standards will be higher than the market average for a short while. When the markets up, a lot of Section 8 recipients have a hell of a time finding an apartment. (Links to area FMR's can be found here.)

One of the problems I've noticed is that the same payment standard can cover a large jurisdiction. In the Boston area, for example, the same payment standard is used in expensive neighborhoods like the Back Bay and less expensive areas like Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester. So landlords in these areas jack up the rents and take Section 8, hurting the non-Section 8 working class renters. It sucks. But, just because the payment standard is set at a certain amount, doesn't mean the Housing Authority will be willing to pay a subsidy to cover it. The H.A. will usually make the landlord prove that he is getting similar rents from his private market tenants in similar apartments.
posted by sophie at 4:29 PM on December 3, 2004


stonesy: I own some rental property in a nasty little neighborhood in a nasty little upstate NY city. I do my best not to be an absentee landlord and make every effort not to rent to tenants who are going to be troublesome down the road (I inherited an older couple who has lived in the building for nearly two decades -- their security and peace of mind is foremost in my mind when selecting tenants for the remaining three units). Yet, I screw up from time time, I'm 100 miles away and have limited resources.

Recently I rented to a family that, to put it nicely, had some 'issues'. But, they had cash and I didn't have to deal with DSS so didn't pay as much attention as I should have. Aside from the stream of violent felons in and out at all hours, a few forcible police entries and the constant noise complaints, they had a thing with garbage. Rather than trudge down a flight of stairs and placing it on the curb they liked to throw it out the back window. This went on unnoticed (by me at least) for months, but when the snow melted it was quite the mess.

To wrap up what is already too long a post, my inattention and their refusal to comply with societal norms led to a legitimate health issue. While I was fighting with the city and soliciting bids for the clean up, the garbage magically went away. You see, the poverty stricken single mother of five next door, a Sec. 8 renter, rounded up her kids and between her two jobs over a period of two weeks, found the time to bag and cart my trash away. Not because she knew me, but because it was visible from her kitchen. I later found out that she converted a slew of vacant lots (the National Guard and the city, in a bid to fight arson, leveled dozens of vacant buildings) to community gardens. I also learned that when she didn't see my elderly tenants for a day or two she made up an excuse and knocked on their door.

I tried to pay her for her time. She wouldn't even consider it and took it out of hide in the form of a lecture on responsibility and contributing to the community I profit from. I stop by a little more often and don't expect I'll be letting a year go by without a look in the back again.

For every nasty anecdote about crackheads and psycho bikers, there are three stories about families who are trying to make their lives better and influence others to do the same.
posted by cedar at 4:48 PM on December 3, 2004


When my grandmother movednto a retirement community, we rented her house to a guy who made PCP. He was a PhD candidate at Brown (in chemistry: "a duh" on us). So I don't think income level is a perfect barometer of tenant viability.

sophie, thanks for all the info.
posted by yerfatma at 5:14 PM on December 3, 2004


These women got the fuzzy end of the lollipop for sure. This in particular made me very sad:

Owsley is now homeless, staying wherever she can. Her children live with her mother. She says she visits them every morning and every night at bedtime. "I just want to be with my kids," she says. This year, she finished paying back Rent-A-Center the $800 she owed. But the thing she regrets losing most is her children's baby pictures
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:20 PM on December 3, 2004


I'd love to see a conservative opinion on this. I'm no saying Republicans or conservatives caused these events to happen, obviously Mr. Veal was acting as an individual.

Here's a fiscal conservative opinion:

When the section 8 person says "I lost my boys' bunk-bed set, my daughter's bed and dollhouse, my baby's crib, the TV and VCRs, movies, clothes, shoes, the kids' bikes, my brand-new leather coat I had laid away in the summer when it was cheap. He took a lot of the stuff I had worked hard to get.", a fiscal conservative will hear "I worked very hard and rather than exercising fiscal discipline by saving my money for a down payment on a house or investments, I have bought a TV, a VCR, and a bunch of materialistic crap like movies and a leather coat that does nothing to get me out of poverty, in addition to the things I needed, like clothes and sleeping arrangements for the kids."

The talk-show conservative will say "It's amazing how so many people come to this country with nothing and can become wealthy by working hard, while people here are born without wealth, and stay unwealthy." And he'll blame it on some fault of character.

But based on what I quoted, it would seem apparent that the person who bought the TV and movies probably has not set aggressive enough financial goals that involve climbing out of poverty. Whether that's a fault of character or bad decisionmaking, or her right is in the eye of the beholder.

I may be incorrect in saying this, but I believe that section 8 vouchers actually allow a landlord to rent a property at a premium over normal market rates, and that this had been his impetus for renting to a section 8 family.

It's been said before in this thread that section 8 hurts non-section-8 renters by artificially inflating the price of housing.... It doesn't necessarily let the landlord rent the property at a premium unless you consider that the housing market is unsustainable without significant subsidy.

So, rather than letting the market correct itself by letting landlords drop their rent prices as tenants can't afford to pay (which may or may not happen, depending on people's preferences for not having housing and/or landlords' ability to bargain with their tenants), The U.S. Government has given us Section 8 vouchers, so that tax dollars can get more people into homes and apartments at the prices that landlords charge for rent.

Section 8 is really about wealth preservation for all of the landlords out there who would lose their shirts if housing were unsubsidized. It's about keeping the rich richer while the poor stay poor. It keeps everyone's taxes a little bit higher, and gives the money straight to rich landlords, who don't need the money (unless they mortgaged the property).

And if they did mortgage the property, it's about keeping rich bankers wealthy... because without the subsidies, the landlords wouldn't be able to pay the mortgage to the bankers.
posted by bugmuncher at 6:33 PM on December 3, 2004


It's been said before in this thread that section 8 hurts non-section-8 renters by artificially inflating the price of housing....

I said this, and it does hurt some families, but the rental market I was talking about (Boston) first became inflated because there was a huge economic boom and a tight rental market with something like a 99% occupancy rate in 2000. Before I worked in Section 8, I worked for a property management company with apartments in desireable student and yuppie neighborhoods. The average rents in those buildings went from approximately $700-$900 in '98 to $1400 to $1800 in '00. This happened because dot coms were sprouting up everywhere and an influx of professionals moved into the city. The effect of the increased rents reached the HUD fair market rents by around 2002, and did cause problems for people housed in previously less desireable neighborhoods.

However, the Boston rental market eventually reflected the downturn in the economy (by 2002 rents started falling to about $1000 for 1 bedrooms), and a year later the Section 8 payment standards were reduced.

Perhaps I made that comment about rent inflation a little hastily, bugmuncher. I think you're drawing some outlandish conclusions. I honestly think that HUD does the best it can to make the payment standards fair. And Housing Authorities try their best to pay no more than what landlords receive from the private market. However, if some schmuck rents an apartment for more than it should go for, the H.A. usually has to approve that rent for Section 8 units in the building.
posted by sophie at 7:11 PM on December 3, 2004


Gee, bugmuncher. How do you know the leather coat was a luxury? The woman stated that she bought it cheap, in the summer. Leather is warm and durable, unlike a shitty cheap nylon coat. Perhaps she was making an investment. Missouri winters can be mighty cold.

Have you ever had a child? Especially a chlid in a poor neighborhood where it's not as safe to play alone outside? If so, perhaps you'd understand why a TV, some movies, a VCR, and a dollhouse might seem more of a necessity.

Maybe the bikes were a luxury. Maybe they allowed her kids to get to school faster. Maybe she got all of these toys through a local charity and didn't pay a dime for them, but her kids--as kids will be--were sad to lose them. And she wished she could get them back. The truth is, you don't know.

If you have a beef with Section 8, that's your business. But that doesn't mean this woman was abusing the system or doing anything but what she had to to keep her family together.
posted by emjaybee at 7:48 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


Sophie,

thanks for writing back. I'm sorry for not mentioning your name before - My eyes were getting tired and I couldn't find your post again.

I'll agree that my conclusions are a little bit on the weird side, but I think it all boils down to one difference in problem-solving: Should the price come down to what people can afford, or should the people be assisted in paying prices they couldn't otherwise afford?

I said this, and it does hurt some families...

But how does it not hurt everyone?

Let's use me as an example. I lived in Rochester in 1998, and I was looking for an apartment. I found a place that had a rent I could agree with, but was told I could not live there because I was not a section 8 person.

The rent was something like $265.

Now, here's what i don't get: Why could I not find a landlord who would rent to me for even $350 anywhere else in Rochester (or Monroe County) (except for the shady ones with no certificates of occupancy)?

The answer, I think, is because the low end of the housing market's price curve had been set at the sum of ($265 + Section 8 subsidy) rather than the amount that the low end of the market could really afford. I am presupposing that a middle-class person's home would be priced relative to the price of a poor person's home, and maybe that's incorrect. But if any landlord can get more money by renting to a poor person than by renting to me for a price I am willing to pay, how am I not hurt?

And if the prices really are somewhat relative to each other, aren't they all artificially inflated by the subsidy, to an extent? And are we all not hurt, to some extent? (except for the landlords and property owners... and the very rich who don't mind paying a little bit more.)

That's why I'll keep saying that section 8 is about keeping landlords rich. Without the section 8 subsidies, the landlords would have to resort to rent cuts in order to keep income flowing, which would decrease their income and make them less rich, or even not rich. Their only alternative would be not to rent at all, which would not be lucrative.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:08 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


Oh.. one other thing. I just noticed both of my posts have been kind of tangential. Regardless what i think about how to solve the problems of poverty, I think that the landlord in the article is a sleaze, if the testimony against him is true. And if it is true, he shouldn't have brought God into it. Because if God exists (and I think he does - though if he doesn't, I have no way of knowing), he'll surely remember this guy's audacity.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:35 PM on December 3, 2004


Bugmuncher, it's illegal for a landlord to advertise an apartment at $265 and raise the price because he's expecting to get a Section 8 tenant. So the $265 had to include the subsidy and tenant payment. I looked up the fair market rents for Rochester in 98, and they were $468 for a 1 bedroom. This covers the gross rent of the unit (rent + utilities that aren't included.) I'm assuming that utilities were not included with the apartment, so the landlord came up with the amount to compensate for it. But I guess that's neither here nore there..

I understand where you're coming from. I had a friend who lived in Lowell, MA when the town had a bunch of mill closings and landlords kept telling him that they preferred Section 8. The reason why they did this, is because if someone's receiving Section 8, the subsidy will accommodate losses in income (adjusting it so that you aren't paying more than 30%.) Therefore, someone who loses their job while receiving Section 8 is a more secure tenant than someone who's not. I'm assuming Rochester's kind of similar to Lowell because it's lost some irreplaceable manufacturing jobs. I think the landlord you're referring to was an asshole and an idiiot for not accepting you as a tenant. And I think HUD could solve some of these problems by making the FMR regions smaller, so that they better reflect local rental markets.

Based on my experience helping a caseload of families get housed, I think there are usually far more landlords who prefer private market tenants. But, that was in Boston between '00 and '03 - I can't speak for every place and time because there are so many factors that affect rental markets. Whenever the economy suffers, Section 8 tenants will be at an advantage for a brief period of time. But it can be shortlived. When I caught up with my former co-workers, all of the Section 8 landlords received a $100 cut from the rent of each and every S-8 unit.

I wish you didn't feel the way you do. Section 8 not a perfect program. But, I think it's an improvement on 60's style public housing, where everyone who receives assistance is partitioned off into projects. And I honestly think it's the best solution yet (which is not to say it shouldn't be tweaked. )
posted by sophie at 9:21 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


Bugmuncher, thanks for your explanation of a fiscal conservative's viewpoint. For more blame-the-victim thinking, no need to look any further than this thread: Taking nothing away from what a bastard this landlord was, let me just quote Chris Rock: "Bitch, stop fucking!"

That's maybe the least charming thing I've ever seen on Metafilter. Let's see...it takes a male and a female to produce a child the traditional way. In this story, the female is left with the children, and she spends all her time doing her best to support them. In the course of her efforts, yet another male screws her.

You did more than just "suggest she stop having sex," jonson. Quoting a comedian doesn't make it funny. But if we're going to give advice to people we know little about, I would suggest you stop fucking, jonson. You don't seem to understand much about your role in the consequences.

/infuriated derail
posted by equipoise at 9:31 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


equipoise: If she's got three children already that she's having trouble supporting, then she shouldn't have a fourth, can we agree on that?
posted by sour cream at 12:39 AM on December 4, 2004


Well, we could always suggest that men who have children out of wedlock could be castrated. Or how about castrating all men, just in case? We'll remove a few sperm, then bring in the big knife, and women can get in touch with their lesbian side.

/snarky, yes, but I'm sick and tired of people who haven't figured out that all babies have two parents - and a great deal of men screw women metaphorically as well as literally. equipose said it more nicely.

bugmuncher - I understand some of your frustration, but the problem is that housing isn't optional. It is not like a consumable good you can just opt not to purchase when it is overpriced, waiting until it goes on sale like a leather coat. In all of Canada and much of the United States, housing is what stands between you and freezing to death three months of the year. You cannot raise children in a shelter, and overcrowded housing is a health hazard.

If you want children to be clean and healthy, and to have a chance to better their lives, they need decent housing. My mother was a single mother of two in subsidized housing at age 23 - we lived there for 18 years, during which time she was always employed, but never made enough to be able to afford a private market apartment. But because I had a stable home, I was able to grow up happy, go to university and I'm now in graduate school (sorry if I sound boasting, but I'm happy for me). And paying for my own private apartment.

Actually, I just remembered (I was only three, so I was told this much later) - my mother was so happy to finally get into that subsidized apartment, because we had been living in a private one-bedroom apartment where the landlord was sexually harassing her and pressuring her to sleep with him or he would evict her. Decades go by, the stories are the same.

posted by jb at 12:50 AM on December 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


sure, sour cream, i think it would be nice if people didn't have children unless they could easily support them. so can we all agree that the men who fathered her children shouldn't have any more either?

wait...that's still not quite equal, is it? 'cuz then no one would be having sex, but she'd still be stuck taking care of the kids singlehandedly. and the jonsons of the world still wouldn't be calling the daddies "bitches."

p.s. -- thanks, jb. it took a few drafts to remove the pure bile.
p.p.s. -- i figured out how to do the small font thing!
posted by equipoise at 1:04 AM on December 4, 2004


I really hate to even sort of agree with jonson on this kind of thing, especially given how often he says ridiculously misogynist things that he seems to find so funny. And really, I do agree with jb and equipoise. On the other hand, I think there's a legitimate question that he's (kind of) raising. Why do women continue to have children that they can't support? We already know why many men have children they can't support -- because they have the option of just up and leaving. No, of course, they shouldn't, but they do. Simply from a self-interest prospective, it's not as bad of a choice for men as it is for women. So, given how much harsher the consequences are for women, why do so many continue to do it?

All of this is not to say, of course, that women are somehow more responsible for the conception of these children. I'm just wondering where the sense of self-preservation comes in.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:00 AM on December 4, 2004


I may be incorrect in saying this, but I believe that section 8 vouchers actually allow a landlord to rent a property at a premium over normal market rates, and that this had been his impetus for renting to a section 8 family.

This is not correct. The impetus for renting to a section 8 family is that you get your rent check from the U.S. Government, which until recently has been the most reliably and creditworthy financial entity in the world.

If you want your rent on time, rent to a section 8 family.
posted by alms at 7:29 AM on December 4, 2004


LittleMissCranky, I don't think you're agreeing with jonson at all--you're raising a legitimate question instead of cursing a victim.

As for the answer....well, people do all kinds of things that work against their self-interest. My guess is that people have lots of different reasons for making what looks like the same bad choice. Maybe she was raped? Maybe the condom broke? Maybe her religion recommends populating the earth as fast as possible? Maybe she didn't know about safe sex? Maybe she couldn't afford or otherwise access an abortion or birth control? Maybe she was married to the father, or he had promised to stick around and support her? Maybe she just doesn't think that far ahead? Maybe she used to have plenty of money and then something happened to it?

My dad once asked a 14-year-old patient of his about why she was pregnant. "All of my friends have a baby," she shrugged. Obviously, that totally sucks, and I never meant to imply that all single mothers are wise and purposeful. But in the story here, we have a mother who's working really hard and we don't know why she's a mother. We do know that the men in her life are irresponsible or worse (assuming her children's father(s) aren't dead). For jonson to curse at and insult her seems like a twisted reaction...or rather, it seems like some all-too-common misogyny.
posted by equipoise at 8:40 AM on December 4, 2004


Simply from a self-interest prospective, it's not as bad of a choice for men as it is for women.

I'm a man, I have one planned child, and I've been through a couple of unplanned pregnancies despite birth control methods being used. I always knew in my mind what the consequences were, and I always knew that I would stick around, or at the very least financially support the child (although luckily I didn't have to because my girlfriends chose abortions over a life in poverty). I really don't understand how a woman with three kids, on welfare, can NOT think to herself, "What if I get pregnant and he walks out?"
With three kids, you know the consequences pretty well.

This in no way absolves the absent father, but when can we start realizing that the ultimate responsibility for one's life belongs to the person living it?

With that said, I still believe that landlord should be slowly eviscerated, in front of his family. It takes real jackals to prey on society's weakest members.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:42 AM on December 4, 2004


nofundy - you're an idiot, take it elsewhere. -jonson

I'd be more than happy to take it and shove it up your ass so far it came out your mouth. And I can do it.
How's that mr. misogynist?
Do you not understand emoticons indicating that one is joking. Let me suggest you take it elsewhere and get off my ass.
posted by nofundy at 3:46 PM on December 4, 2004


I didn't mean for my post to come across as an indictment of people on Section 8 at all. I know my landlord had a harder time evicting this woman than normal and that her parolee status was definetely not known to him prior to her moving in. I'm guessing he didn't run a criminal check on her because he'd never had an experience like that before. It was quite a few years ago so maybe things have changed but I do know that the administrators were extremely unhelpful to him and the police's attitude was "your bad for renting to these kinds of people".

The whole experience just made it that much harder for people with a legitimate need to get housing in the future.
posted by fshgrl at 3:51 PM on December 4, 2004


Apropos the "fiscal conservative" comment on the woman whose goods had been stolen by her landlord--"I worked very hard and rather than exercising fiscal discipline by saving my money for a down payment on a house or investments, I have bought a TV, a VCR, and a bunch of materialistic crap like movies and a leather coat that does nothing to get me out of poverty, in addition to the things I needed, like clothes and sleeping arrangements for the kids."

A TV costs from $100 to $500. A VCR costs from $40 to $200. A leather coat that was bought on sale might cost $100, and one needs a reliable winter coat in Missouri, so the marginal difference between that coat and the cheapest decent winter coat might be $40.

What kind of a house can one make a down payment on for $640? What kind of "investments" can one make for $640? Also, what is one supposed to do for entertainment while one is saving up for one's down payment and "investments"--sit on the floor and stare at the walls, while giggling delightedly at the idea that one might have enough saved up for a down payment on a house in 30 or 40 years if one buys nothing but food and basic clothing? Because that will be fun for the kids.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:45 PM on December 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


Hey, if your first thought on reading a just-in-time-for-the-holidays article about a man who raped and made homeless the poverty-stricken women he was paid by the government to house was "bitches shouldna had so many damn kids," you may want to do a little magnet check on your own moral compass. It might be stuck a little bit south of Heartless, and only slightly to the north of Women Refuse To Have Sex With Me, So Maybe I Should Look Into This Section 8 Landlord Gig.
posted by melissa may at 9:59 PM on December 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


I'd be more than happy to take it and shove it up your ass so far it came out your mouth. And I can do it.

Kudos, the bravery of your internet message board threat is only matched by the anonymity of having no name, email account or physical address in your profile. But seriously, it sounds like fun, let's try to set it up. My email's in my profile, feel free to contact!
posted by jonson at 1:24 PM on December 5, 2004


« Older The History of Maps...  |  It's that time of year again.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments