OBAMA'S PERSONAL HOUSING CRISIS.

Well, it's not quite a crisis, but this piece chronicling the Senator's support for failing affordable housing that is publicly funded and privately managed is certainly problematic for the Senator's campaign. It brings to the fore, once again, his connection to jailed developer Antonin Rezko, it sullies his former-community organizer/good government image and it raises problematic questions among his base of liberals and particulary African-Americans—is he, like Bill Clinton, a candidate whose liberal campaign will be replaced by business-focused governing? (Which isn't to say business friendly is necessarily negative, though it certainly seems to have been in this case.)

I'm not sure the story proves that shoddily run public-private affordable housing partnerships are any worse than shoddily run public housing -- it does seem that at least some affordable housing activists see promise in this kind of approach to the issue. (A glance at this Urban Insitute one-sheet suggests that there isn't any one silver bullet approach to the issue).

The Obama campaign has already created a pushback website that doesn't contradict the main narrative of the article, but does identify broader support for the policies in contemporary press report. The biggest concern for Obama is his failure to adequately respond to the failures of the initial policy with adjustments to make privately-run housing projects more responsive to tenant needs through independent audits or regulation. He should also worry that some of his supporters made a good deal of money off his legislation at the expense of his constituents (there's no evidence of anything unethical in this case, yet).

I haven't seen a statement from the McCain campaign dealing with the issue, and there doesn't even seem to be a policy statement on public housing issues at his website.

I'll be spending most of today blogging from CAP's "McCain University" but when I have some free time later I'll see if someone on Obama's campaign will shed some more light on this story and how it affects his approach to public housing ...

--Tim Fernholz

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