Incentivizing Good Behavior For the Poor

““I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” Mitt Romney the presumable nominee for the Republican nominee for President.

The public housing authority always had a problem with people who illegally dump their garbage in stairwells, elevators and the curbside and let’s not mention vandalism. And now as part of the planNYCHA, the plan to preserve public housing the leadership of the nation’s housing authority wants to implement layered security access, aggressive recycling of waste, raising rents on those who pay ceiling rent and selling air rights.

While the authority spends money on printing fliers encouraging people to do good. The problem has improved  but is still widespread. I propose the following, implement a fine/penalty system. A tenant is given a summon for the first offense, a fine for subsequent offenses and eventual lease termination (because that process is costly). The agency could hire a group of people to collect all garbage illegally dumped and sift through it for personal information linking the household who is the culprit. The money generated from fines will be used to pay the employees and put an end to the problem. I am reminded how Washington DC has a $.05 surcharge on plastic bags and in the first month they have seen plastic bag consumption drop from 22 million to 3 million. The money goes to a general fund and is paying for the cleaning of the Anacostia River. They have solved two problems reduced the consumption of plastic bags considerably and paid for the cleanup of a landmark river. The chairman of NYCHA who is a Harvard business school graduate and former managing director of now defunct Lehman Brothers should be the first person to realize this.

And yet the management of the public housing authority wants to vote against such systems. You have right wing Democrats such Magarita Lopez and Victor Gonzalez who are hellbent on going to speaking engagements to demand residents rise up and demand more funding for services, employees and the like. They say the rich, white Republicans are attacking the poor, helpless minorities and propose that tenants should rise up and go to our nation’s capital and demand full funding to hire more caretakers and purchase more equipment. While I agree that public housing is underfunded and the money spent on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wasted. I believe history has shown when you write someone a blank check the money will be spent frivolously. Take a look at the 2008 elevator scandal for example. NYCHA blamed the issue on lack of funding, but FOIA documents showed mechanics goofing around on the job, drinking, shopping and  fixing their own sports cars. They overhauled the elevator division and now my elevators in my development are in tip-top condition. Until NYCHA incentivizes good behavior I believe what will see is a continual decline of the standard of living and services. I heard that DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) will start charging NYCHA next year for water usage. How will they pass the cost on to the tenant? I can’t say I feel sorry for them.


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