Housing voucher programs and rising crime rates in Columbia, MD-Howard county.

Basic statistics tells us that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. However, when looking at the crime data before and after the mobility voucher program in Howard county, MD through out the years, it’s easy to say what’s the cause of the spike in crime in this area. And according to that data, the cause of the crime is the move-in of housing voucher recipients from the outskirts-mainly Baltimore city of Maryland to the area of Columbia (Howard County).

The mobility voucher program’s main mission was to allow poverty stricken families to move into high income suburbs to earn a chance at good schools, good medical options, and safety for their children. That mission is great in that it has allowed not so well to do families in Baltimore city to move in to areas where their children might be guaranteed safety and a chance of good education. However, people who implement these programs never assess the negatives/costs. In addition to the needy families, the voucher program has brought in people with the “city mentality”. According to crime data from Howard county and the Maryland uniform crime report, murder, robbery, rapes, and assault have increased through out the duration of the program. Advocates for the program might vehemently deny and call this fact merely an assertion but the numbers don’t lie.

Hana Rosin penned an article in 2008 for theAtlantic highlighting the same phenomenon happening in Memphis, TN. Cops and researchers in Memphis wanted to know why certain areas mainly suburbs had seen an increase in crime for a long time. They noticed a pattern while mapping the data and that pattern was that the crime rates aligned with the movement of voucher program recipients to those suburbs. Of course the researchers received push-back from city council officials. Rosin also reported that majority of the voucher program recipients usually never adapted to their new surroundings due to the lack of community. Some even mentioned that despite the amount of crime and shootings in their neighborhoods, they still had a sense of belonging and/or community.

I currently live in one of Columbia’s small neighborhoods that was envisioned by James Rouse, a property builder who founded the small city right in the middle of Baltimore and Washington DC. Rouse envisioned a city where low and high income, janitors and CEO's would live side by side. Basically a city where color and status were not an issue. The late James Rouse thought of this noble idea pre-civil rights era when racism and discrimination against blacks was rampant. Of course one would think of such an idea as noble. And noble it is. However, today’s ideological divide within America is definitely defeating Jame Rouse’s idea. City council officials who are majority left leaning are seeking to accomplish Rouse’s mission in Howard County mainly Columbia the wrong way. They are not vetting the voucher program recipients properly and refuse to debate research that has shown that the crime travels with these recipients as they move away from their city enclaves. Like I stated above, I live in a small neighborhood within Columbia and I have witnessed first-hand the effects of such programs. There is 1–4 police cars in the parking lot at least 5–8 times a month reporting for domestic issues, robberies, and drug activity. These voucher patrons usually throw trash around the complex area, mainly in the parking lots. Their kids play basketball through out the day until 12 am in the morning. Some drive through the complex blasting music at levels the police would consider a disturbance. These are a set of behaviors only seen in communities of Baltimore city. As a result of the housing voucher program, we are seeing these same patterns in the suburbs within Howard county-Columbia and even other suburbs around Maryland and Virginia.

What we shouldn’t do now is avoid debate and call each other bigots and racists for stating the uncomfortable truth about a subject some deem sensitive. Instead what we should do is embrace this topic, do your research and try to make a case for your point of view. The truth given bitter definitely cures the sickness faster.

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