Sunday, February 25, 2018

Editorial: Longview Housing Authority is an asset to our community

Nov. 29, 2017 at 10:12 p.m.

Public housing programs in the United States do not have a long history of success.

Designed to give underprivileged families a safe place to live, the programs — especially in project housing — have often been a safe place for gangs and drug dealers to operate freely. Fraud has often been rampant from both the tenants and the landlords who oversee the private properties.

By and large, Americans want to help those who are struggling but these are the kinds of problems that so erode public confidence as to endanger assistance for those who really need it. The problems have not only plagued urban centers but wherever public housing has been used.

But that situation is changing — at least in East Texas under the leadership of programs administered by the Longview Housing Authority, which seems to have found ways to give great service to those qualified for housing while, at the same time, keep out those who don't belong.

In doing so it has become one of the nation's more stable housing authorities. Considering the difficulties, that is more than an accomplishment for the organization, it is clear evidence these programs can work well if managed properly.

The Longview Housing Authority, which oversees programs in three East Texas counties, is now looking for ways to increase the number people who can qualify for programs after having already reduced by half its waiting list for housing.

To achieve that, the authority wants to help applicants get beyond ways that disqualify them from housing benefits, including criminal records and poor credit histories. Of course, getting beyond those problems goes much further than just qualifying them for housing, it helps these people enter the mainstream economy so they can support themselves.

It should be the goal of public housing — as well as all kinds of public assistance — to move people successfully out of the program. This is important not because it might save taxpayers a bit of money, though that is a plus, but because it lifts people up.

Living in public housing can become a pattern that lasts for generations, so long that it becomes the "norm." While some long-term assistance is understandable for the elderly or disabled, it should not last a lifetime.

Helping people get through a difficult part of their lives is a good thing, allowing them to use this crutch long after it is needed is destructive.

It is good to know the Longview Housing Authority is working toward this goal and succeeding. We know it has not been easy to do and appreciate the ongoing effort.



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