The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Washington, D.C. Housing Overcharged

Mar 6, 2023

The Washington, D.C. Housing Authority pays private landlords more than one million dollars more a month for providing apartments for poor people than it should, according to a study by the Washington Post. Public money that is supposed to help the poor is being used in a way which pushes rents and rental profits up, in a city where housing costs are already going through the roof.

Voucher housing programs set up nationwide in the 1970s took federal money that used to pay for public housing projects. These programs diverted that money to have the states and D.C. pay private landlords to rent housing to poor people. The tenants generally pay one third of their income, and the public money pays the difference between that and what the landlord charges. D.C. has around 15,000 housing vouchers.

In 2009 during the financial crisis, supposedly to cut costs, D.C. stopped checking whether landlords were charging higher rent for vouchers than for other tenants. They might as well have announced the cow was available for milking. After a federal complaint last year, now it seems some landlords charge D.C. almost $900 more per month for voucher apartments. Many of these apartments are in atrocious condition.

Under capitalism, housing is not a human right. That’s the basic problem.