Letters To The Editor


March 25, 2004

Housing plan is boon to city, not boondoggle

Thank you for giving front-page coverage to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City's program of buying and renovating rental housing for low-income residents ("30 low-income rent units cost city $7 million," March 20). It is rare that positive, constructive programs such as this one receive such prominent treatment.

It is a pity that the story appeared under a headline that implies that this program is a costly boondoggle - a position unsupported in the story except by a statement from a representative of the Heritage Foundation. In my book, Heritage Foundation condemnation amounts to an endorsement.

The facts in the article do suggest that the program effectively creates opportunity for low-income citizens without a negative impact on middle-income neighborhoods; that it's vastly more efficient than other failed solutions for housing the poor; and that it's a positive step toward breaking up the concentrations of poverty that cost taxpayers even greater sums for drug addiction, crime, educational failure and chronic health problems, among other blights.

Don Akchin


The writer is director of membership development for the Enterprise Foundation.

City pays too much for public housing

I was astonished to read the article about Baltimore paying $7 million to purchase and renovate 30 rental units for scattered-site subsidized housing ("30 low-income rent units cost city $7 million," March 20).

In a similar project, my real estate development company acquired almost as many houses from the same federal agency in the past four years. Now renovated and completely up to code, they are rented mostly to subsidized housing tenants. Our renovation costs were less than $800,000.

Maybe I'm not clear about the cost differentials, but is this fuzzy math or what?

Robert H. Paul


Huge housing bill as city budget burns

I am a Baltimore firefighter, and in the recent days I've witnessed the mayor say he is going to cut the Fire Department budget by more than 5 percent, which would mean closing four of the city's fire companies each day, and read that police officers will be laid off because of budget cuts ("Budget plan cuts city jobs, services," March 18). I've also seen the suspension of a firefighters union president for voicing his dissatisfaction over budget cuts ("City fire officer's union president suspended after criticizing chief," March 20) and watched the city's school system fiasco.

Yet the city somehow spends $7 million purchasing and renovating housing for 30 low-income rental units ("30 low-income rent units cost city $7 million," March 20).

I am not begrudging housing to these families, but spending almost $234,000 per house seems ridiculous. My wife and I both work and we cannot afford a $234,000 home. It is grossly unfair to the citizens of Baltimore for the money to be spent this way.

Certainly, less-expensive housing could be found. The remainder of the money could then be put into helping address the city's budget crisis.

August Pierson

Rising Sun

Clarke just confirms what we knew of war

Far from being revelatory, Richard A. Clarke's exposure of how the Bush administration ignored good advice in its bullheaded pursuit of an invasion of Iraq is continued confirmation of what rational people have known for some time ("Bush team jabs back at ex-terrorism adviser," March 23).

And for all of their hand-wringing over Mr. Clarke's motivations, officials in the administration refuse to acknowledge the real one: his concern that this president's policies have made our nation and the world much less safe.

David Schwartz


Why criticize Israel for fighting terror?

Why is it acceptable for every civilized country in the world except Israel to hunt down and eliminate terrorists ("Hamas leader dies in Israeli copter attack," March 22)?

Why don't the British, French and other European hypocrites condemn the United States for seeking to eliminate Osama bin Laden as they jump on Israel for taking out the head of Hamas, an organization drenched with the blood of innocent civilians?

The recent tragedy in Madrid should serve as a reminder that no one is immune from terror and that all right-thinking countries should be aggressively pursuing the perpetrators.

Searle E. Mitnick


Treatment, training keep ex-felons free

The Sun's article "Study finds jobs after prison don't cut recidivism" (March 16) was somewhat misleading and did not mention our most important findings.

The former prisoners in our study were followed for only a few months after coming home to Baltimore, insufficient time to conclude that employment doesn't prevent recidivism.

Our more important policy-relevant findings have to do with how released prisoners obtain jobs and stay off drugs.

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