The announcement came earlier this year but the impact was not felt until recently, as tenants and housing advocates caught on to the enormity of the deal: Baltimore Housing Authority has agreed in principle to sell more than a third of its 11,000 public housing units to private operators, hoping to raise more than $300 million to maintain the remaining units. As scandals go, it's missing all the grubby titillation of a drug gang controlling the prisons or a mayor on the take. But the impact on real people's lives is likely to be much greater than those scandals, and the scandal behind it is vast: Baltimore is selling out because the federal government has systematically under-funded public housing for decades. Those thousands of homeless people loitering downtown are not there by accident, and not because they are more shiftless than previous generations of poor people. They are there because of public policy.