Owners could be held legally accountable for deplorable low-income housing conditions
’jects: Housing projects
Free fire: Zone where bullets fly
Uncle Sug(ar): U.S. government
Zone 1: Police patrol zone encompassing Springfield and Panama Park
Juice: Electricity, political influence
Wes Denham is the co-author of "Arrest-Proof Yourself" and author of "Arrested, What to Do When Your Loved One's in Jail." You can reach him at wesdenham.com.
The way to stop people from shooting and killing each other in the Section 8 hellholes that infect Jacksonville like hot carbuncles dripping pus and blood is to arrest millionaires.
First, some background. Section 8 is part of the Housing Act of 1937, as amended, and establishes a subsidy that pays most of the rent for low-income tenants in private apartments. The money is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered through a local housing authority. Ours is called something like the Jacksonville Department of Happy Neighborhoods, Contented Families and Cheerful Children. I'll call it Jax HUD because that's what the cops call it.
Most of the people on the leases are low-income women. Most of the actual residents are stone criminals. A Zone 1 cop told me he's been busting bad guys down in the 'jects on Jesse Street for years and he has never arrested anyone who actually belonged there.
I, as a director of a condominium located on the dividing line between civilization and free fire, have a long and unhappy experience with Section 8 tenants. One was a whore pimped by her mother; another a coke dealer zonked on his own merch. The third was an industrious salesman of Chinese machine guns and armor-piercing ammo. Their charm, hygiene and manners I leave to your imagination.
How do Section 8 apartments become hoodlum hotels? Sometimes the chicks move in their thug lovers. Sometimes badboys muscle in and inform the women that henceforth the ladies will supply sex and food along with the crib or catch a bullet right here, right now. If the girls get tookey, they get beaten, usually with the business end of a Glock, then tossed out on their keisters.
Housing subsidies and food stamps are the mother's milk of crime because they make criminal enterprise profitable. Here's an example. If you've got an expensive heroin monkey on your back, you've got to turn tricks or burgle houses day and night to stay high. But as long as Uncle Sug pays for the crib, the chow and the juice, every dollar you fornicate or steal buys dope and fun. That's 'hood-onomics 101.
Now back to the millionaires. They own the buildings; they get the money — hot-wired into their accounts monthly by Amalgamated Governments of the United States. I remember one plutocrat in particular. She was beautiful, had an IQ 20 points above mine, and so tough she could chew a nail out of a two-by-four with her flawless incisors.
Known colloquially as "HUD farmers," these millionaires should get busted not because they're rich, but because they're slumlords, who turn a blind eye to crime and let the taxpayers pick up the bodies and clean up the messes. Under Florida Statute 823.10, the Drug House Law, to willfully maintain a dwelling used for sale or consumption of illegal drugs is a third-degree felony that earns up to five years downstate on the rock. The law applies also to aiders and abettors, which means you can bust local HUD officials who hear no evil and see no evil where Section 8 is concerned.
A Drug House bust can work because there is more dope in Section 8 units than paint. Bust hoodlum dopers, then bust the building owners and their HUD financiers. Mission accomplished.
Of course, the Florida Drug House law is not used this way for obvious reasons. Busting millionaires and government officials is awkward. Elected officials dine and cocktail with slumlords, who, naturally, top up campaign coffers early and often. Cops won't bust HUD types because they never arrest local government officials who are, after all, fellow bureaucrats. They always, in my experience, fob off local government investigations to the FBI, who are buzz-cut out-of-towners. Alas, the FBI will not enforce the Drug House statute, because it's state, not federal, law.
Regardless, the nuisance law can work because I've used it. As a condo director, I found that the mere threat of a nuisance complaint was enough to make a HUD millionaire sell two condos rather than risk a felony rip and a cutoff of the money.
Hoodlums can run from cops; buildings and their owners can't. Were the cops to arrest even one or two HUD millionaires, complete with the de rigueur TV perp walk, the slumlords and their co-conspirators at the city of Jacksonville would clean house — fast.
There is a political upside. Millionaires have many dollars, but few votes. The average storefront preacher in Zone 1, who seats the faithful in rusted chairs and covers the windows with bed sheets, can rally more voters any day of the week.
Clapping millionaires in chains is popular. It might even encourage voters to smile upon State Attorney Angela Corey, forget her losing the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, and reward her with a job in Tallahassee or Washington.
Hoodlum removal would bring peace to the terrified women in those HUD units. It might even introduce fresh air and sunshine into the fetid precincts
Of Crime City.