Monday, 12 September 2011

More Waste: Government Spends $4 Million to House 12 Homeless

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In yet another display of government inefficiency, government officials in Bethesda, Maryland, located just outside of Washington, D.C., have decided to spend $4 million to house 12 homeless people for a single year. That averages out to approximately $330,000 per person, a figure that grows even more absurd when one observes that the average price of a single family home in the United States is just over $170,000.

The story was first reported by the Washington Examiner:

Owned and operated by Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission, the "permanent supportive housing" facility will be at 4913 Hampden Lane — between Woodmont Avenue and Arlington Road in downtown Bethesda — and will house six studio and six one-bedroom apartments.

The project received $1 million in federal stimulus money, as well as $944,829 from the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs and $2.1 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the state.

The home contains a community room, fitness center, computer center, laundry facility, outdoor enclosed courtyard, and storage space for each of the new tenants. A counselor will be available during the weekdays to work with the residents, and seminars and workshops will be hosted to help them find and maintain jobs.

Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless Director of Development and Communications Diane Aten reports that residents in the facility will need help getting medical care, going back to school, and finding work. Aten points to a similar facility, Cordell Place, also located in downtown Bethesda, and notes that the 32 single adults at Cordell Place require ongoing support from the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.

Neighboring businesses and residents have indicated they do not have a problem with the home being purchased in their neighborhood, so long as the new residents do not cause problems.

For example, Kevin Doran, who lives just behind the new housing facility, said he takes no issue with the homeless people moving into his neighborhood, “as long as they are contributing to the area.” He added that he does not wish to share his neighborhood with drug users, however.

Likewise, Mary Solloway, who works at a boutique in the neighborhood, said she has no problem with the facility, but questioned the intelligence behind placing the facility just across the street from a liquor store.

Deborah Simon, owner of the Waygoose Redux Boutique that sits just across from the new facility, states, “I don’t think I have anything to worry about,” noting that the facility is expected to be well monitored.

The neighborhood in Bethesda in which the home is being built is known for being a particularly pricy one, which raises questions as to why it was selected.

Likewise, Judicial Watch notes that stimulus dollars will help fund the project, money that it dubs “fraud-infested.” According to Judicial Watch, the stimulus has been “a disastrous waste of public funds”:

Judicial Watch has reported on the many scandals involving the president’s $787 billion plan to jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work. Much of the money has gone to companies that have cheated the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and a series of wasteful projects.

For example,the Government Accountability Office published a report in May that found nearly 4,000 recipients of the stimulus funds owed over $750 million in taxes and nearly a dozen have committed crimes. Those recipients received a combined $24 billion in Recovery Act funds.

Judicial Watch also explains:

Last summer a scathing U.S. Senate report revealed that tens of millions of stimulus dollars went to frivolous projects like international ant research, to study why monkeys react negatively to inequity and a “tunnel to nowhere” in Pennsylvania. The same probe discovered that recovery funds also bought state-of-the-art cell phones for low-income smokers trying to quit, fancy digital music players for high school students in one state and advertising to promote the stimulus.

Overall, analysts believe that the stimulus funds were “carelessly disbursed with little scrutiny,” under the touted goal of putting Americans back to work.

However, the stimulus package, in the same vein of nearly all of government’s well-intended projects, has been riddled with fraud and corruption and characterized by inefficiency and waste overall.

But do not fear — the federal government has announced another stimulus is on its way, better known as President Obama’s jobs bill. And despite the historical evidence that these bills do not work, there is still no reason to believe that this newest legislation will be a failure. At least, that’s what we are told.


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