President kicking students to the curb

Section 8 housing changes are leaving students in the lurch and without rent money.

Students receiving Section 8 subsidized housing benefits have been hit by the Bush administration in the middle of the school year. Here is a transcription of a letter written by a property manager whose residential properties are partially funded by Section 8:

This week, we have been advised by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency of a new ruling by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is effective Jan. 30.

1. The new HUD ruling significantly restricts assistance to students enrolled in an institution of higher education. Students enrolled in institutions of higher education, whether full or part time, are ineligible to receive Section 8 housing assistance if they:

Are younger than 24, or
Are not veterans, or
Are not married, or
Do not have a dependent child, or
Are not otherwise eligible, or
Have parents (individually or jointly) who are not eligible, on the basis of income, to receive assistance under Section 8

2. The new HUD ruling also requires that financial assistance in excess of tuition must be counted as income, with two exceptions:

Loans do not count as financial assistance
A person over 23 with a dependent child

HUD has determined that students currently receiving Section 8 will not be an exception to this rule. This means that (students) lose (their) Section 8 assistance effective or retroactive to Jan. 30, if you are a student and do not meet one of the criteria above. This notice, dated Jan. 27, did not indicate the date upon which this critical ruling was made.

Most bothersome about this ruling is that it takes effect in the middle of a school year when students have set their budgets, settled in for peaceful and productive study, and might be affected with what is now a crisis situation for thousands of students throughout our nation. Section 8 is a form of financial assistance dedicated to very low-income individuals and their housing needs.

For most, those legislating and executing this rule are the age of the parents and grandparents of all students affected by this ruling. This is an outrage, and all students, their siblings, friends and family members, should immediately contact their U.S. senator or representative to decry this poorly executed stewardship of our nation’s most precious resource: Its future leaders.

Nationmaster.com notes that the United States is rated 14th among the world as most educated. The United States provides welfare to other nations that use this gift to educate their citizens. The Housing and Urban Development ruling underscores the movement toward weakening our nation’s middle class.

I will note that, as a student, I did not receive significant funding from my parents despite their relative wealth. Their neighbors included former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Alan Paige, the bishop of the Episcopal Church and a few foreign consulates. Not all “rich” people receive money from their parents.

My vantage point is one of interest because many of my neighbors were and are?University professors and administrators who may not agree with the degree of nobility of those who have drafted and executed the new rule. Unfortunately, younger individuals are often too preoccupied with studies and starting families to focus on politics.

It is imperative that students of all ages, and others, respond to this repugnant act. Closing Section 8 to students during the school year is immoral and not terribly bright during an election year in which many of our nation’s policymakers may be voted out of office given their indifference to their own young citizens. ?

Barry N. Peterson is a University alumnus. Please send comments to [email protected]