Section 8 Fiasco In Atlanta Obscures Real Housing Problems
Why are we using 1970's style distribution techniques for anything in 2010?
I was tooling through the black conservative website Booker Rising when I came across a comment by one of its readers that mirrored my thoughts about the thousands of people who stood in line Tuesday in East Point, Georgia, a city located just outside the Atlanta city limits, to get applications for Section 8 housing vouchers.
Let me put aside any indictment of the PEOPLE IN LINE for a second. While I will hold my ground and mandate that they be respected as "equal human beings" we need to instead focus upon the POLICIES that have brought about this situation, the LOGISTICS by which one central bottle neck was used as the paperwork distribution point and the SECURITY situation. I can tell you that if everyone in that line is does not get a form - there is going to be a riot. There were not enough police authorities on site to do crowd control in the event that these people did not get what they have been waiting for.
If it is true that the people are receiving forms and not filling it out today - WHY didn't the housing authority get the forms printed out last week and set of distribution centers that were disbursed throughout the city? There was not one single reason to set up this situation to pick up a damned form.
Online publications looked for an easy headline that preyed on the heightened suspicions of a polarized nation. Huffington Post titled their article “Third World America.” The Drudge Report captioned its top of the page photo “Mob Rush For Fed Aid Draws Riot Police.”
The reality is much more complicated.
Atlanta is a city of paradoxes. It is home to the fastest growing millionaire population in the United States. The city has the largest concentration of black millionaires. Yet, Atlanta is number three on the list of "Top 101 cities with the most people below 50% of the poverty level, excluding cities with 15% or more of residents in college and with the median age below 28 (population 50,000+)."
Atlanta also has an extremely high child poverty rate at 48.1 percent in 2004, higher than Detroit (47.8 percent), Long Beach (45.8 percent), Miami (41.3 percent), and Milwaukee (41.3 percent). Black Atlanta families are nearly three times more likely than white Atlanta families to be poor. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20.8 percent of Atlanta’s black families and 7.4 percent of white families fell below the poverty line in 2008.
A wide gap also exists in black-white earnings. In 2008, the median income for white Atlanta households was $86,156 compared with only $29,033 for the city’s black households.
A concentration of adjustable rate subprime loans in areas like East Point and College Park, combined with home values that were often aggressively “puffed” to unbelievably high values by appraisers wanting to curry favor with high volume mortgage operations, means many homeowners in these areas are now trapped in properties that may never appreciate to a point where the equity can cover the loan value.
A quick look through today’s online version of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution shows a more empathetic look at a few metro area families who are suffering from the effects of the economic downturn.
Stuart Landman is clipping coupons now.
Rick Hawkins, a Riverdale cabinet maker, laid off most of his workers — and sold off nearly all of his vintage cars.
And when John Veal, an IT manager from Cherokee County, lost his job, he cashed out his 401K savings plan to pay bills.
For them and others, living is no longer about success; it’s about survival.
Across metro Atlanta, per capita income shrunk 4.8 percent — down from $38,336 in 2008 to $36,482 to 2009. Per capita income nationally dropped 2.8 percent to $40,757, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
What the articles on the Section 8 housing applications leave out is the number of vacant homes in the Atlanta area, homes that have been abandoned mostly due to foreclosure that sit empty, waiting to be bundled into mortgage pools and sold for 5 or 10 cents on the dollar to faceless entities funded in part by the very same Wall Street banks that exacerbated the subprime loan problems in the first place.
The same blogger whose comments echoed my own thoughts above must have been reading my mind, because he also touched on that very same point in his comments section:
“…about 3/4ths mile from that very location is the city of Atlanta's "Pittsburgh" section. There is an abundance of empty, foreclosed upon, newly remodeled houses. If the government was going to blow money why not have it purchase up this vacant stock of property and work out some scheme by which these people can live in them.”
Could Atlanta’s new mayor, Kasim Reed, prove to be a visionary and put some of the money the Obama Administration has earmarked for states with higher unemployment rates into devising programs that can purchase the very same inventory of vacant houses for the same 5 to 10 cents on the dollar private industry is paying and make these homes an affordable alternative for struggling Atlanta area residents?
In January, the city learned that its application for an additional $58 million in stabilization funding had been turned down by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The news shouldn't have come as a surprise. A December audit showed that almost none of the money in the first round of NSP grants to rebuild neighborhoods had yet been spent -- a phenomenon that managers of the fund attribute to fierce competition to buy the homes. The city now risks losing any funds uncommitted by September.
While the program may have sounded reasonable to its creators in Washington, it's been difficult to get off the ground in Atlanta. A collection of local nonprofit development groups are expected to use the grant money to buy and rehab foreclosed homes to sell them to low-income families. But bottomed-out home values turned Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods into hotbeds of speculation by out-of-state private-equity groups competing with the grant-holders. Those groups have been willing to pay cash for dozens of properties at a time, sight unseen – and because the grant-holders have to observe strict HUD purchasing guidelines, they don't enjoy a level playing field.
Whoever you want to blame for letting the fiasco at the East Point Housing Authority get out of hand, the reality remains the same—there is no reason why Americans of any race or creed can't be treated with some dignity in their time of need.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
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