Your Jan. 7 editorial "A way out of the projects" is both heartening and troubling at the same time. We at the National Housing Conference (NHC) are heartened that the Monitor has focused on the issue of affordable housing.
We agree that the president's intention to expand the housing voucher program as part of the fiscal year 2001 budget is a promising development. We also agree that the low-income housing tax credit, which over the years has become the primary vehicle to produce new affordable housing, needs to be revved up.
We do take issue with a few aspects of your editorial. First, your use of the term "projects" in your lead continues to foster a negative stereotype. Many Americans associate the term "projects" with racially segregated slums and the failures of some federal housing policies.
Your editorial also implies that an expanded voucher program will accelerate the movement of families from less desirable public or assisted housing "projects."
First, not all public and assisted housing is less than desirable. In fact, many families living in public and assisted housing are proud of their communities, and there are millions who are currently on waiting lists for public and assisted housing who have never received government housing assistance, are living in substandard or overcrowded conditions, or find themselves homeless.
We were also troubled by your statement that the voucher program will increase consumer demand for housing and spur the housing market to build more apartments.
If only this were true. The short-term nature of voucher assistance all but precludes more than a modest show of interest by traditional developers.
Among other incentives, housing developers need longer-term guarantees of voucher assistance to stabilize the risks inherent in building for a target population of limited means. Inevitably, our success in increasing the production of new affordable housing opportunities will depend in large measure on our willingness to make affordable housing a high priority national issue.
Robert J. Reid Washington Executive Director National Housing Conference
Children as fund-raisers
Your Jan. 10 Home Forum essay "A parent's survival guide to fund-raising" needs some offsetting enhancing values.
Fund-raising by children can teach them valuable lessons. They may not be able to grasp the concept that they may be selling junk, but they should be able to comprehend the concept that they are not getting "something for nothing."
Fund-raising by children - selling perhaps unwanted items - is certainly better than requesting money for their organization's projects. Requiring little effort on their part, this is hardly better than begging. Selling "things" is also probably better than selling raffle tickets - which encourages the "something for nothing" concept.
Robert A. Brown Reading, Mass.
Second chance for former drug users
Regarding your article "Fight over hiring cops who once used drugs" (Jan. 12): Persons who have risen above their faults can best teach how to avoid those faults. To prohibit these teachers from reaching others based on their past is a disservice to humanity.
Society, however, must ensure the fault is a part of the past. Officers who have used drugs in the past and can prove through testing and other valid indicators that they no longer use drugs are our best defense for preventing drug use in future generations.
Lisa A. Hill Reno, Nev.
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