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Section 8 tenants are guinea pigs for Oakland nonprofit, in rent reform study
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Saturday Jul 19th, 2014 6:59 AM
For years, MRDC located downtown Oakland has been involved in using poor people as guinea pigs in research studies that they were hired to do for the government. This includes studies on people in welfare to work programs, people in school programs, work programs for ex-prisoners, including programs for disabled people. MRDC became most notable or notorious for coming up with the states welfare to work policies of the 80s and 90s!
Section 8 tenants are guinea pigs for Oakland nonprofit, in rent reform study

By Lynda Carson - July 19, 2014

Oakland - Just try to imagine living in a world that uses poor people, especially mostly poor African-American women with children as human guinea pigs in a study group, if they happen to be in the Section 8 voucher rental assistance program (a.k.a. Housing Choice Voucher Program).

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is searching for new ways to dump as many people as is possible out of the Section 8 voucher program due to funding cuts, and is looking for different ways to force Section 8 tenants to look for work, or to find other ways of financial support.

As part of this strategy, HUD has hired Manpower Research Demonstration Corporation now known as MRDC, a so-called nonprofit organization located at 475 14th Street in Oakland. MRDC was hired to conduct a "rent reform study" on Section 8 tenants receiving federal rental assistance from Moving To Work (MTW) housing authorities in Louisville, Lexington, San Antonio, and Washington D.C.

In essence, HUD hired MRDC and it's partners to assist HUD and local housing authorities to design and conduct a national evaluation of alternatives to the current structure in the Section 8 voucher program (a.k.a. Housing Choice Voucher Program).

It appears that the federal government and MRDC wants to do a study on poor people in the Section 8 voucher program to see how many people end up becoming homeless, lose their kids to foster care, or commit suicide once the housing authorities and HUD start taking away child-care subsidies, utility allowances, medical bill allowances, and start charging low-income people much higher rents that end up taking food away from their children.

For years, MRDC located downtown Oakland has been involved in using poor people as guinea pigs in research studies that they were hired to do for the government. This includes studies on people in welfare to work programs, people in school programs, work programs for ex-prisoners, including programs for disabled people. MRDC became most notable or notorious for coming up with the states welfare to work policies of the 80s and 90s.

The profiteering professionals at MRDC have spent years targeting low-wage workers, young adults, people of color, high school students, poor people on welfare, ex-prisoners, and now Section 8 tenants as their principal subjects to be used as guinea pigs in their studies. Studies that are meant to help shape social policies that keep the rich and powerful in control, while at the same time filling up their coffers with millions of dollars, on an annual basis.

The organization was formed in 1974 by the Ford Foundation and several federal agencies, and the State of legal domicile is Delaware. With gross receipts of $68,160,973 from 1/1/2012 through 12/31/2012, their assets grew from $86,597,703 in 2010, to a whopping $90,045,462 in 2012.

A money making machine, from 1/1/2012 through 12/31/2012 some of their top executives have been raking in the dough, including: Gordon Berlin who made a whopping $395,792 plus $56,022 in other compensation, Jesus M. Amadeo $288,736 plus $48,378, Robert J. Ivry $291,654 plus $49,570, Barbara Goldman $191,776 plus $23,553, Frederick Doolittle $233,020 plus $44,329, Sharon L. Rowser $179,691 plus $38,371, Louise A. London $76,225 plus $13,466, Thomas Brock $182,489 plus $23,993, James E. Riccio $179,205 plus $38,652, Howard S. Bloom $264,081 plus $49,007, Charles Michalopoulos $190,727 plus $31,728, and Anne Fenton $179,068 plus $23,586 in other compensation.

Rent Reform Study By HUD & MRDC

As recent as June 17, 2014 the Louisville Metro Housing Authority placed a policy notice on their website called the "Proposed Moving to Work (MTW) Activity: Rent Reform." It's a notice about a rent reform policy change in their Section 8 program that will deeply affect the lives of many Section 8 tenants in a negative way, for a period of three-years.

According to public records with HUD, LMHA has 10,958 Section 8 households, and 4,629 low-rent units with 11 more units in development. The LMHA is a Moving To Work (MTW) demonstration housing authority that does not have to abide by all the normal rules and regulations most other 3,100 housing authorities have to abide by that protect the interests of low-income renters. Currently there are only around "40" MTWs or less, nation wide.

As a result of the chilling notice proposing major rent reform policies affecting poor people in the Section 8 rental assistance program (Housing Choice Voucher Program), a number of tenants banded together to protest against the proposals that would treat them like a bunch of guinea pigs, in a lab cage.

According to a report in The Courier-Journal: Around 40 protesters appeared at a Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA) board meeting on Tuesday July 15, with some protesters holding signs stating "We are households, not guinea pigs!!. We need homes, not more poverty."

Other protesters had duct tape covered over their mouths in protest. As a result of the protest, the housing authority held back on passing a measure that would have set the rent reform policies into motion, until the tenants could voice their concerns with James Riccio of MRDC.

The protesters are angry, and are responding over the proposed three-year rent reform study on the Section 8 housing program that would negatively affect their lives, and threaten them with homelessness.

The Section 8 tenants would be forced to be part of a study group that includes different rate structures as a test on the tenants, just to see how they would be affected by the changes in their lives. They are being threatened with the loss of their Section 8 vouchers and threatened with homelessness if they refuse to go along with the study that is being forced upon them.

According to reports, some of the tenants will be forced into a group that will have to pay minimum rent payments of $75 per month, and they will lose their child-care subsidies. Additionally the rent reform alternatives being forced on the low-income Section 8 tenants include an elimination of deductions and allowances, a revised methodology of determining gross annual income, a simplified utility allowance schedule in addition to other major changes in the program.

The low-income tenants are being told that during the study period each household selected for the new rent policy cannot opt out of the policy, and households not selected for the alternative policy cannot opt into it. The tenants will be notified if they are chosen for the rent reform study when it is time to recertify their Section 8 contracts.

Additionally it was reported in the Courier-Journal that critics such as Cathy Hinko, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, complained about the decision not to give residents a choice in the matter.

"They can get informed consent, (but) they choose not to, even though the population, children, who are primarily who will be affected are considered to be very vulnerable," Hinko said.

Kathleen Parks, head of the Louisville chapter of the National Action Network, claimed a history of "experimentation" on black citizens is a reason for mistrust.

"African Americans since slavery have been experimented upon in some way or fashion," Parks said, citing the 1932 Tuskegee Institute study that allowed 399 black men with syphilis to go untreated without their knowledge.

"It may seem extreme to use the example of the Tuskegee experiment, but nevertheless it was done and the premise of that experiment at that time was justified, so the experts say, just like this experiment is supposed to be justified."

According to reports: Riccio said, "Only 10 percent of families are using the child-care subsidy and that while he understands the argument for consent, Congress has given the office of Housing and Urban Development the power to proceed without it."

Public records reveal that woman make up 83% of the tenants in the Section 8 voucher program all across the nation, and there is no informed consent form for the tenants to sign, for the rent reform study that is treating them like a bunch of guinea pigs in a lab cage.

HUD is also currently experimenting on 60,000 public housing households with the new Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, that is allowing the privatization and selling off of thousands of public housing units in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities all across the nation.

MRDC, the so-called nonprofit organization that uses poor people as guinea pigs in their studies also has an office in New York City.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com

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Correction: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC)Lynda Carson Saturday Jul 19th, 2014 6:19 PM