For those of us in the business of highlighting the absurdities and outrages of the Left, Berkeley, California is the gift that keeps on giving. Now the city's Housing Department has now been shown to have been paying the rent for at least 15 dead tenants. Doug Oakley of Media News via the Oakland Tribune reports:
Staff at Berkeley's Housing Authority paid federal rent subsidies to landlords for at least 15 dead tenants - some for at least two years - according to two city reports that recommend firing all 22 employees in the department.
The reports list 13 other instances of blatant misuse of some of $25 million in federal funds and claim that city staff "actively thwarted" an investigation by a new director who discovered the misspending after starting work last summer.
City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque, who prepared one of the reports, said her office has forwarded that information to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector General, which can then refer the matter to federal prosecutors. [....]
In addition to paying rent for dead tenants, Albuquerque said the housing authority staff gave some clients more subsidies than they were entitled to, paid Section 8 rent for tenants who didn't financially qualify for it, played favorites by subsidizing rents for ineligible families while eligible ones remained on waiting lists, failed to verify whether subsidized apartments were even occupied, paid subsidies to landlords retroactively before contacts started, and in one case subsidized the rent of a registered sex offender
Get this: the 14 full-time employees of the Housing Department can't be fired, but can only be reassigned to other city jobs. Even though Berkeley City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque states that housing authority staff "actively thwarted or resisted" [the new Housing Authority head's] efforts to investigate and report the problems.
HUD wants the Housing Agency disbanded and a new one established in its place. Others are calling for hiring a private contractor to do the job
More than two years ago I commented on problems in the City's housing program, which was nailed by the feds for discriminating in favor of African-Americans in dispensing public monies to subsidize housing. To wit, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle,
15.7 percent of Berkeley's low-income population was African American, 74.2 percent of the people getting Section 8 rent vouchers and 87 percent of tenants in city-owned rental units were African American.
I commented at the time:
So 84% of Berkeley's poor people have to make do with one quarter of the spoils of the voucher lottery, while the remaining 15.7% divide up three quarters of the loot. For the few actual housing units owned by the city, it is even worse. The 84% majority just get 13% of those, while the 15.7% get 87%. [....]
Berkeley is an example of a city where a political machine, left wing in politics, and disproportionately black by race, pretty much runs things as it pleases. The availability of municipal grant money, undemanding jobs, and other goodies from the city treasury is one reason why so many "activists" are able to survive and be avilable for political demonstrations at a moment's notice.
Further examination of the housing program in Berkeley is warranted, by a federal grand jury. Questions which need to be asked include the personal, sexual, political, familial, and other relationships between recipients of these boons and members of the Berkeley political establishment.
Apparently no meaningful reforms were undertaken, because the problems have only gotten worse.
My confidence in the Department of Justice is at a pretty low ebb these days. I would like to see the Housing authority miscreants end up in the federal pen, but frankly don't expect that much will happen to them.
Section 8 housing vouchers are an inherently unjust system of favoring the chosen few at the expense of everyone else. Asking bureaucrats working for politicians to hand-out subsidies is like feeding crack to a street whore. You are only going to make things worse. As I wrote two years ago,
It is all rather like the historical practice of pashas and potentates in various Oriental Despotisms. Faced with a mass of starving miserable subjects, they would 'grant a boon' to a few, securing their personal loyalty, while demonstrating their splendor and benevolence to all. Like Berkeley, many pashas found that it paid to concentrate their boons on certain ethnic groups among their subjects, so as to create a solid bond of loyalty among them, and rendering them suitable for use as palace praetorians, tax collectors, police, and officials.
My guess is that if anyone cares to look they will find a certain political, personal, and ethnic cast to those receiving the money for the rent of deceased. Just a wild guess.Hat tip: Clarice Feldman