I “who gets what”, as we defined

I watched PBS’s
Frontline program, featuring the film
“Poverty, Politics, and Profit”. This film was about the present issue of the
lack of affordable housing for low-income people. The film focused specifically
on the Section 8 Voucher, a form of assistance from the government which helps
poor people with their rent, by paying the difference between their rent and
what they can afford. It is currently the US government’s largest program to
help low-income families pay their rent. The film explores the shortcomings of
the voucher, which have failed its many recipients with obtaining a decent
place to live. The film also goes further into exploring the multi-million
dollar fraud which goes on in the public housing development industry.

            The key political issues brought up in
this film that are important to the political system are the issues of “who
gets what”, as we defined it in class, and also the issue of financial
corruption. The film presented research data showing that although the
development of public housing units has steeply declined in the last few
decades, the need for housing has increased, as has the price of rent. This has
caused the problem of low-income families and individuals having to rely
heavily on government assistance. And even with the Section 8 Voucher, it has
proven to be ineffective. Many public houses do not accept the voucher, and
those that do have waitlists up to four years.  The “who gets what” issue also seems to be perpetuated
by the discrimination and stereotyping of America’s poor. As this film shows,
the upper-middle class residents of one town in Texas stand against having a
public housing development built close to their neighborhood, because they
think that the poor “will not fit in” with their upper-middle class lifestyle.

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            The film also revealed the reality
of rampant corruption within the housing development business. In the early 1990s,
the government launched a new construction program, called the Low-Income
Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which relied on the private sector. While the idea
of the LIHTC began as a way to create a new public-private partnership that
would allow more affordable housing to get built, it also opened the door to elaborate
political fraud schemes, fueled by greed, in which private housing developers illegally
made millions of dollars off of the developments.    

            I think the film made a strong case
in presenting and discussing the reality of poverty in America. Poverty is
extremely prevalent in America, despite what many might think. I did not observe
any apparent bias in this film; the film did a good job of presenting
everything in a fair light.

            The three questions that could be
researched further regarding this issue are: is there something being done
currently to curb the problem of corruption in the housing development business,
or is it too easy to let something like this slide unnoticed? Are there any new
plans currently in the making to improve or update the Section 8 Voucher?  What can be done to make it more possible for
the recipients of the Section 8 Voucher move to move to higher-income,
higher-opportunity neighborhoods?





“Poverty, Politics and Profit.” PBS, Public Broadcasting
Service, 9 May 2017,