When Daddy HUD Bans Your Cigs

When Daddy HUD Bans Your Cigs – Low Income Baltimoreans Angry as HUD Strips Individual Freedom

 Residents of Perkins Homes public housing development in Baltimore City express outrage after HUD announces a smoking ban in all government owned urban housing developments. Residents cry: Don’t tell me what to do in my own home!

In late November, the Baltimore Sun did a story on the US Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed ban on smoking in federally subsidized public housing units across the country. The ban includes a prohibition on lit tobacco products in all indoor areas – including personal dwellings – and extending 25 feet around all buildings. Nationally, more than 228,000 HUD units have already voluntarily complied with the new policy, but an additional 940,000 public housing units will need to comply within the next 18 months.

None of the 11,000 public housing units of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City are currently smoke-free. The Baltimore Sun’s November story included interviews of multiple residents of the Perkins Homes housing development to share their opinion of the smoking ban. The Sun quoted resident Donnie Bowman, a 44-year old pack-a-day smoker, on the in-unit smoking ban, “They ain’t going to be able to stop it, not as long as my name is on the lease.” Hmm. What an interesting point of view! If one’s name is on the lease of a HUD unit, does that really grant them any say in how the landlord, Daddy HUD aka Big Government, chooses to manage the unit?

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As one would expect, the Baltimore Sun editorial board seized the opportunity to write an opinion that President-elect Donald Trump should keep the ban and not overturn it. Not that he was talking about overturning it. However, the Sun editors were chomping at the bit to explain to their readers that despite the fact that the government is essentially telling them what they can and can’t do in their own personal living space, it’s for their own good! That big meanie Trump better not interfere! #notmypresident

In full disclosure, I don’t smoke. I’ve always been a non-smoker. Furthermore, I agree with the Baltimore Sun editors when they explain to their readers the economic benefits of banning smoking in HUD units. The ban will save in public housing costs (as it is more expensive to restore a unit after a smoker moves out), and on public healthcare costs. As a conservative, I’m all about saving money. It also makes the HUD units safer and less vulnerable to fires accidentally set by careless smokers (Baltimore City saw 18 fire deaths in 2015).

But, I’m still wondering: Why did the Baltimore Sun write this editorial? Was it only for the purpose of criticizing President-elect Trump before he even takes office or do they really think public housing residents care about the increased housing costs incurred by HUD? Do housing residents care about the health benefits as Perkins Homes interviewees puff smoke into Sun reporters’ faces? Maybe the Sun’s editors want Baltimoreans to tell every HUD unit resident they know to switch to vaping. I’ll walk over to Gilmor Homes and let them know immediately.

Anyway, the Sun editorial prompted Lucy Robins of Baltimore, “a former smoker, a Democrat, supporter of Barack Obama, and a lawyer,” to write a letter published in the Sun on 5 December. In her letter, she conveys her disagreement with the ban writing that it disproportionately affects black residents of major cities like Baltimore:

For starters, under these rules, HUD will be cracking down on a minuscule number of people — .003 percent of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, everyone else in the country (including families in other kinds of subsidized housing) can go on living their lives the same way as before. Add to this the fact that in many large cities the vast majority (99 percent in Detroit, 98 percent in New Orleans and Washington D.C., and 96 percent in Baltimore) of the tenants in public housing are black, and what you end up with is a relatively small group of mostly black people who are being told what they can and cannot do in their own homes while the other 99.997 percent aren’t subject to this intrusive federal regulation.

Ms. Robins’ racially charged comments allude to an important point. When one relies on the government to provide them with a life essential (ie housing), one must be prepared to give up some individual freedoms (ie freedom to smoke in the home). As HUD feeds housing handouts to Baltimoreans, HUD is eating away at those Baltimoreans’ freedom bit by bit telling them what they can and cannot do in their own homes.

I pray that the result of this smoking ban is something other than an increase in fines or evictions of low income black families who violate the ban. In my opinion, the most successful result of this ban will be if public housing residents, through their anger over the ban, kick off the shackles of what conservative author, Dinesh D’Souza, describes as the HUD developments’ “urban planation.” Wouldn’t it be great if a HUD smoking ban inspired an exodus of residents who instead chose to pursue the American dream of home ownership no matter how difficult the challenge may seem? With the outrage over this ban, I hope housing development residents recognize that the path to freedom can never be found in a social welfare line. Freedom is only found through cultivating one’s own destiny; not kowtowing to Daddy HUD in exchange for a rudimentary housing space which may be rescinded whenever Daddy HUD says house rules were broken.

Take this as a lesson, Baltimore. Today, Daddy HUD commands you to stop smoking. Tomorrow, what will Big Government command you to sacrifice next?


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