A friend of many decades, who currently
depends on federal assistance for affordable housing, sent me her
concerns about the current direction of our government. As a lesbian,
a feminist, a woman, a senior with disabilities, and a progressive
activist, she feels especially vulnerable right now. She needed
anonymity, but gave me permission to share her insight.
“As I watch the mechanism of Fascism
being put into place in our country, I look for the small back
stories that tell the larger tale when the stories are all knitted
together. I look for what is happening locally. One such small
story surfaced in my life last month.
“Our local Housing Authority (HA)
provides rental assistance to low-income people through the Housing
and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 Voucher System, a life-saving
“The budget for the HA has been
drastically cut over the years. No surprise here. The program has
gone from 3 people working full time 3 days a week in our small town
to 1 person available to residents 3 hours a week. One of the
aspects of the program is a yearly inspection of the voucher
recipient's home. This is a good thing. Homes are checked to
confirm they are safe and healthy places to live. The inspector
checks for the basics: working water and electrical systems, safe
stairs, secure doors and windows, etc. The inspector also checks to
make sure no one is cooking meth in the bathtub and that things look
on the up and up.
“Our local inspector covers a very
large network of homes for the HA. Budget cuts make this a
challenge. He is quick and efficient. He takes about 10 minutes of
time and then is off to the next inspection.
“On his way out the door, I asked him
how the current government is impacting the HUD program. He said a
13% reduction of HUD is in the works. He also said that a sea change
in inspections is being proposed. Instead of a local inspector doing
what he has done for years effectively, the government is proposing
to do an 'in depth' inspection. That entails calling in
'professionals' in the field of housing development such as
foundation, roofing, and heating contractors, to do studies of the
voucher recipient's home. Once the bevy of contractors (local? we
doubt it) completes the inspection, then the results are shipped back
to the federal office. Then—and, this is where the story reveals
how the current government is overlaying a Fascist
template—photographs of the interior of the home will be taken,
that is, photos of bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and
computer area. These photos will then be sent to a massive database
at the federal level.
“Many of us probably saw the
outstanding piece of journalism in ‘The Guardian’ which exposed
the financial connections between US elections and the UK Brexit
vote: <https://goo.gl/6bjzvR>. I am deeply concerned. The way
for me to combat this horrible situation is by understanding it as
clearly as possible so I can adjust my responses accordingly. Also,
I can help others to understand.
“After the election, I questioned
'why' unqualified billionaires were being put in charge of federal
programs like HUD. I think I finally got it after reading the
‘Guardian’ piece. Each of our government's agencies have massive
databases. Data is what the Fascists are seeking. The billionaires
are simply placeholders in the agencies. They hold the doors open
for the Fascist Information Technology teams to collect data and
breach data privacy agreements. Today's technology facilitates mega
database collection. And, that includes pictures of my bedroom and
“As for the gravy train for
contractors inspecting the homes, we all know who is in the housing
and land development business.”
Unlike my friend, I’m not ready to
use the term fascism in reference to the administration, but I think
she, and the quoted “Guardian” article, are not to be ignored. I
admire how she brings home the need to understand what is happening
to our country that has gripped me, and so many other Americans.
Just yesterday, at a tiny, rural
Mexican restaurant, I was sitting with another worried lesbian when a
gentleman in his sixties, seated near us with his wife, complimented
me on the t-shirt I wore: Elizabeth Warren’s “Nevertheless, She
Persisted” shirt. I thought he was going to hug me, he was so
demonstrably thrilled to have found a progressive compatriot.
A lesbian elder’s pen, a stranger at
the next table, a respected Senator standing up to speak the truth.
Our very vulnerabilities make us strong as long as we continue to
tell our stories, large and small.
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, Rainbow Gap, is available at Bold
Strokes Books. You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2017 Lee Lynch.