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Fair Housing Advocates Celebrate Passage of AOC's Repeal of Faircloth Amendment

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/07/02/fair-housing-advocates-celebrate-passage-aocs-repeal-faircloth-amendment


The Faircloth Amendment–of which I had never heard–would seem to be an ideological soul mate to the Hyde Amendment (also in need of repeal ASAP).


Faircloth? Looks like Foulcloth to me.

Signed into law by Bill Clinton who feels your pain and then makes it worse!

Kudos to AO-C!



I had never heard of it before either, until I read an article in the June 2020 issue of Harper’s Magazine (Grand Designs by Ian Volner). This article covers public housing history to the present day. It’s fascinating.

Repealing the Faircloth Amendment is a good start to getting public housing back to doing what it was designed to do. A good thing…


I am all for the increased de-commodification of housing. Have worked in planning and relying on for profit private housing developers to the extent our society does is insane.


There is/was a point that public housing is/was not a very good idea in the first place as most have resulted in the muse for a generation of rap tributes. Once repealed, there should be a better plan. There are some pretty disgusting examples for housing especially Israel and China. It has never been a bastion of social equality.

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Here is the link to the article by Ian Volner: ~

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It was signed into law to prevent the spread of project housing that deteriorated physically and socially until they built another one that did the same thing. At least they had to tear down the old one before they could build a new one.

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That would be a good secondary thought. The primary one is that hundreds of thousands of urbanites have no decent housing available.
I did not know of this legal position either, but it explains why we never hear of a new government subsidized housing project, anywhere.
I revel at foreign youtube videos of modern cities. They all have ample, huge apartment complexes that dwarf some of our insurance headquarters buildings.


We can’t use up more and more fertile crop land for suburban sprawl and paved areas.
We need to build up for urban projects, and in thoughtful, energy efficient, modern ways. Not “The Projects”, round one where there ended up being more water leaks and roaches than people.

Sorry I didn’t see that post until after I wrote mine. We are worried about the same things though.

Well yes we need to re-define environmental impact. If you look at some of the cities created in China, they took the building up idea to the extreme. Subsidized housing is the ultimate social engineering control. I just realized affordable housing has a whole different meaning and the single goal of most people living in public housing is to get out of it.

Sure they would prefer better. But given the choice between a subsidized high rise, or a cardboard box in an unprotected alley, we know what the choice would be.
Perhaps a UBI is the first approach. Get more than daily drinking money in the hands of the otherwise hopeless.


I agree that government run housing is not a good long term solution. I prefer cooperative housing constructed with government funds and with section 8 vouchers for the residents. This gives residents a stake in the housing and democratic running of the policies/governance. Importantly, the Faircloth limits also keeps the government from funding construction of that type of project as well - so I hope its removal from federal law also makes its way through the Senate and into the trash heap of history.


Well yes but it is still not much of a choice and more just reinventing the same wheel. Abject poverty or what. It reminds me of feral animals that no longer have a natural eco system.

We have Section 8 housing here, there is a four year waiting list though. It does mean the building has to meet certain standards which is good and though not perfect I don’t think is adequate to meet future needs. Like the pandemic or the other pressures on housing which have out paced availability. When they closed all the development centers in CA there was a lot of attention given to independent living settings from individual settings vs group settings.

That is all the more reason why my proposal for new construction of cooperative housing is so helpful (the type of housing I lived in during grad school after my children were born). Fund the construction and add funds to the section 8 program and have them run as cooperatives. Set “rents” at a level to allow for sustainable maintenance and provide section 8 vouchers for those that can’t afford those rents. That addresses the key problems associated with public housing generally (poor management, unengaged residences, lack of maintenance, …)

Outside of coop housing - I also like projects like the one Occupy Madison runs (see `https://occupymadisoninc.com) where they have built a democratically run tiny home village of formerly homeless people.

Private, for profit housing developers want to make as much profit as possible, obviously, and are getting squeezed by massive land rents. They think of things like density bonuses as a not sufficient enough of an incentive to provide affordable units, and there is a huge mismatch between what society needs on housing versus what is in the interests of private developers, banks, financial institutions, etc. The financial markets are based very much on securitization of housing debt, and there has been little interest in socializing things like land rent. So, it really is fundamental. We need housing to a great extent that is not commodified, cannot be turned into a financial product, and we need to get serious about land rent and economic rent overall. Housing cooperatives and community land trusts are two of my favorites to, in addition to public housing units.


The Faircloth Amendment seems to be one of the very great many US laws which have been passed to implement provisions of trade agreements like GATS which prohibited new public services and hugely narrowed the definition of what could be public. (Not provided on a commercial basis (meaning it has to be free to all) or in competition with one or more other service suppliers) I don’t know if we made any commmitments in housing, officially in GATS. Housing seems to be both a good and a service. But I have noticed that since 1995 public housing construction all around the world seems to have largely stopped, (except maybe in Hong Kong and there its all PPPS I am pretty sure, which are only partially subsidized and typically only for a limited time, which also is a problem of subsidized health care, one we’re running into now it seems) and its obvious thats because of the WTO (Which Bill Clinton takes credit for creating in his Administration’s NARA web page. )

We need to be aware that the 1995 GATS agreement, especially, is behind a great many roadblocks to needed changes.

Unless we can get out of it in its totality, we wont be able to do what AOC obviously aims for building more public housing. Additionally the exporting of our natural gas is likely to adversely impact our existing rent stabilized housing by making existing housing definable as “blight” and theefore subjecting it to codemnation and redevelopment by giving it to real estate developers. This is because of a SCOTUS case from the early 2000s - - the implications of this for all people who live in homes are staggering (both homeowners and renters. It made it legal to displace people based on the idea of replacing them with other uses which generate more taxes. Thts not a public use by any definition of same but the Scotus in their decision, Kelo vs. New London, seemed to think it was okay.

So urban communities should realize they are living on borrowed time, and need to get on the defensive. This large scale devastation which I have seen is absolutely horiffic.

A right to rent an apartment at a stabilized rent- only exists as long as that specific apartment exists. Exporting gas - will eventually greatly increase the cost of natural gas at some point in the future. (the next really cold winter)

Already landlords are deliberately deferring repairs, they want to sell their buildings.

Unless we get on the ball and start energy retrofitting all that affordable housing fast, we’re going to lose it, and it wont be possible to keep all those families in cities, they’ll be forced out. It will have an effect on a great many other businesses Ultimately people wont have anywhere to go that works for them.

Because of GATS especialy, we’re likely to have big problems (like, they have made it largely impossible under the current rules, and dont forget its a treaty) making any of the changes we need.

Especially ones like healthcare that are the subject of other plans for example, in TISA. Building new public housing also wont help most of the people who live in cities today because of rules that mean that most who currently live in cities make too little for the kinds of market rate housing that must be built. We would be much smarter to focus on making existing housing much more energy efficient, (triple paned windows would help a lot)

Otherwise we’ll be caught by surprise when energy prices spike and landlords are ready with a legal challenge to rent stabilization nationwide. Tossing millions of families out on the street with no housing within 50 miles in their price ranges. Many don’t even drive. Uprooting poor people from their support networks in today’s America is a death sentence…

Additionally, the jobs doing energy retrofits and energy upgrades are likely covered by the GPA so they are unlikely to create any jobs for poor Americans. Instead the jobs may go through an international bidding process.

Its been this way for several years. Public Citizen has a publication called Propsperity Udermined that explains how “national treatment” and “Most Favored Nation” work. Please read it. There is a war going on against the middle class and we’ve been sweet talked (deceived) into not seeing it. But that doesnt mean its not there.

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Interesting, I have will have to give this some additional thought. Just an aside I would add adequate funding as a very concerning aspect of this plan. I would have a few other concerns as well but I like the idea of people having options and stake in their communities.

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