So I went over to tell the tenants when trash day was, that rap time is over at 2 a.m. and that dog poop doesn't magically disappear if you let it sit for weeks. When I got there, perched above the porch roof was not one but two satellite dishes.
If you're on Section 8, what are doing with two dishes? Regular cable costs $80 a month and dishes cost about $250 for the hardware and installation and then the monthly fee starts at $60. Call me nuts, but if you have two dishes, I'm thinking you don't really need that Section 8 voucher so desperately. Another slap in the face came when the door opened - and the kids were playing X-Box in the living room on a giant flat-screen TV. These people need a subsidy like Dolly Parton needs implants.
If you can afford satellite dishes and flat screen TVs, then stop making the taxpayers help pay your rent. Section 8 is for folks who allegedly don't make enough to afford rent. But you do make enough to pay extra for premium movies and sporting events on a TV that costs well over $1,000.
Here's the scoop on Section 8.:
It's not called Section 8 anymore. It's Housing Choice. That's like calling a pile of horse manure fertilizer and a hooker a sex worker. And even though people used to be able to be on Section 8 (sorry, Housing Choice) for their entire lives, Philadelphia finally put its foot down and gave them a seven-year limit, except for the disabled and senior citizens.
Created by the feds in 1974, Housing Choice works in the form of direct payments to a private landlord that low-income people can use to rent apartments and homes on the private market.
The tenant must lease a qualified unit that rents for an amount that doesn't exceed HUD's fair market rent for the area. In Philly, that's $962 for two bedrooms, $1,153 for three and $1,398 for four.
The tenant pays 30 percent of household income as rent, with the other 70 paid by PHA directly to the landlord. The program is supposed to be transitional, a stepping stone for low-income families yearning to own homes.
But after seven years, these low-income families are taken off the program and left without housing, which just causes more despair and problems for those who really need it.
What they really need is a down payment for a home of their own, some start-up money to start their next home journey.
They need Maryanne Cahill.
A plump Irish granny with a backhand as sharp as her tongue, she taught me how to save rent money. No disrespect to Carl Greene and PHA, but move over and let Momma Cahill work. When son Tommy Boy moved back in, she charged him rent. Every Friday, he had to give her part of his paycheck - no ifs, ands or buts.
She didn't care if U2 was at the Spectrum, or his buddies were down the shore or he wanted two dishes for cable TV, that rent better be on the kitchen table, under the napkin holder, or the locks were changed and one of her famous backhands was in order.
When he moved out to be on his own again, Crusher Cahill, Irish eyes smiling, presented her son with a percentage of the money she had charged him. Not only did it help him with a nice down payment for a Port Richmond rowhouse, but he bought a dining-room set as well.
This could happen with Section 8. Play with the numbers a little. The tenants pay 30 percent of their income while Section 8 pays 70 percent. Cut that by $50. $50 times 12 months is $600, times seven years equals $4,200 plus interest. At the end of the seven years, the family gets a voucher for that $4,200 to be used only for rent or a down payment to get private housing on their own. Don't worry, they won't be allowed to buy a third satellite dish. *
Patty-Pat Kozlowski lives in Port Richmond and watches basic cable on a 27-inch TV.