I read the commentary by Julian Jones Jr. and Stephen Lafferty in The Sun regarding Baltimore County's HOME Act and feel compelled to comment ("End income discrimination in Baltimore County," July 21). Who could argue against your case of providing assistance to Myesha Allender, who was paralyzed by a drunk driver, or to all those in need due to circumstances outside their control? Also, who would argue against assisting the housing needs of those on pensions, disability or on Social Security? However, are these truly the individuals that you are making the argument for? Isn't the HOME Act specifically designed to assist inner city single families (specifically, single African American women with children) to move into "high-opportunity" communities in Baltimore County?
Saying that these relocations have no deleterious effects on a community is counter to what actually transpired in virtually every community this program has been introduced in. (remember "Move to Opportunity?") Having grown up in Edgewood in the 1970s and '80s, I experienced first hand the impact of this well-intentioned program. In a matter of a decade, a stable, middle class community devolved into one having the highest crime rate in the county. Edgewood has never recovered from this program, and many other communities in the region (Aberdeen, Joppatowne, Essex, Rosedale, Dundalk, Parkville and Overlea) have experienced similar fates, including declining home values, increased crime rates and poor public school performance. To say that these programs have no downside to a community is just not true. Please provide one study indicating that a community actually benefited from one of these programs.
I have no doubt that you can identify individuals that this program has benefited, but at what cost to that community? Another valid argument can be made to the fairness (or lack thereof) of this program to those who have worked hard their whole lives and can't afford to live in communities like Perry Hall, Hunt Valley or Monkton. Should we be rewarding individuals who have made poor personal choices such as having multiple children out of wedlock or dropping out of school? It would be much more productive to redirect all the millions of dollars set aside for this tired and failed program and, instead, teach individuals how to get out of poverty.
The Brookings Institution found that people (no matter what socioeconomic, racial or ethnic group) have a 98 percent chance of not falling into poverty and a 74 percent chance of being in the middle class if they follow three simple rules: Graduate from high school, get a full time job and do not have children until after you are married (in that order). Following this forgotten formula is the only "move to opportunity" that works for the entire community — not relocating ill-prepared families and hoping they don't make the same bad decisions in someone else's community.
Dave Drager, Fallston