I watched PBS’sFrontline program, featuring the film”Poverty, Politics, and Profit”. This film was about the present issue of thelack of affordable housing for low-income people. The film focused specificallyon the Section 8 Voucher, a form of assistance from the government which helpspoor people with their rent, by paying the difference between their rent andwhat they can afford. It is currently the US government’s largest program tohelp low-income families pay their rent. The film explores the shortcomings ofthe voucher, which have failed its many recipients with obtaining a decentplace to live.
The film also goes further into exploring the multi-milliondollar fraud which goes on in the public housing development industry. The key political issues brought up inthis film that are important to the political system are the issues of “whogets what”, as we defined it in class, and also the issue of financialcorruption. The film presented research data showing that although thedevelopment of public housing units has steeply declined in the last fewdecades, the need for housing has increased, as has the price of rent. This hascaused the problem of low-income families and individuals having to relyheavily on government assistance. And even with the Section 8 Voucher, it hasproven to be ineffective.
Many public houses do not accept the voucher, andthose that do have waitlists up to four years. The “who gets what” issue also seems to be perpetuatedby 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 apublic housing development built close to their neighborhood, because theythink that the poor “will not fit in” with their upper-middle class lifestyle. The film also revealed the realityof rampant corruption within the housing development business.
In the early 1990s,the government launched a new construction program, called the Low-IncomeHousing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which relied on the private sector. While the ideaof the LIHTC began as a way to create a new public-private partnership thatwould allow more affordable housing to get built, it also opened the door to elaboratepolitical fraud schemes, fueled by greed, in which private housing developers illegallymade millions of dollars off of the developments. I think the film made a strong casein presenting and discussing the reality of poverty in America. Poverty isextremely prevalent in America, despite what many might think. I did not observeany apparent bias in this film; the film did a good job of presentingeverything in a fair light. The three questions that could beresearched further regarding this issue are: is there something being donecurrently 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 newplans currently in the making to improve or update the Section 8 Voucher? What can be done to make it more possible forthe recipients of the Section 8 Voucher move to move to higher-income,higher-opportunity neighborhoods? Citation”Poverty, Politics and Profit.” PBS, Public BroadcastingService, 9 May 2017,www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/poverty-politics-and-profit/.