homeless foster care shelters vouchers

US Treats Poor Parents Like Criminals
school districts

Fall on Hard Times, Have Your Kids Taken Away

Instead of investigating and intimidating families without a permanent home, what if we ended poverty? This 2013 excerpt is from Alternet, Feb 3.

by Alex Kane

About 25 states in the country “list a caregiver’s inability to provide shelter as part of their definition of abuse and neglect.”

“Placement in foster care” is a “risk factor” that predicts family homelessness during adulthood.

There are not enough shelters for all the homeless families.

And federal housing vouchers for homeless families could be expanded to get families into real, permanent housing.

Homeless mothers are threatened with having their children taken away if they try to enroll their kids in the wrong (better) school district.

To read more

JJS: The author goes on to recommend the usual leftist, well-meaning response of more public spending on serving poor people. That reminds me of Shaw’s remark that if you’re not a socialist at 20, you have no heart but if you’re still a socialist at 40, you have no head. We all want to end undue suffering but how? Note once we do end poverty, there won’t be any homeless.

Decades ago, the Washington Post reported that the city of Pittsburgh closed its homeless shelter -- not from a lack of funds but from a lack of guests. What the reporter left out is that Pittsburgh also had affordable housing, widespread ownership, and an enviably low crime rate -- plus a relatively high tax on land.

Charging landowners a “rent”, rather than taxing their buildings, is key. When owners build a home or addition, then they won’t increase their tax liability. But when they speculate and keep some desirable site vacant or under-used, they can’t save money because they must still pay over the value of the location, whether it’s been improved or not.

In order to pay the land tax or land dues, owners get busy and build. At the same time the new construction increases the housing stock, the land tax also knocks down the land price. Thus, anything on top of land becomes more affordable.

The increase in development also gets more workers hired, and some of those jobs can be taken by homeless workers. The resultant rise in employment means that workers are better able to pay for housing that costs less. The result: more owner occupants and more prosperity.

Where people prosper, they pay more for locations. With land dues or land taxes in place, the regional land values would be recovered. As the article mentioned, some revenue could be returned to residents as housing vouchers, so no matter how pricey the sites become, people there could always afford them.

Instead of trying to solve problems by addressing symptoms, try addressing the whole system; you can’t solve homelessness with shelters and open schools but you can with economic justice, with land dues paid in while getting rent dividends back out.

Happily, some leaders are pushing at least half the reform. The New Haven Connecticut legislative delegation has introduced a bill to permit a municipality to enact land value tax. That's a huge step in the right direction.

Once such a fair system is in place, perhaps then the poorer ex-spouse might not lose the kids to the richer ex, the Danes might not have taken children from unwed mothers as recently as the 1960s, and Christian Americans might not have taken the children away from Native Americans. It gets hard to abuse people when they're your material equals.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

Coping with Resource Challenges

Is there a Peaceful Way to Settle Land Disputes?

The Rich Get More From Government Than Anyone

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