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Question of the day

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

* The setup

The Chicago Housing Authority wants to require all adults who currently live in, or apply in the future for housing in any of its developments, to be tested for drugs — including senior citizens.

The blanket policy proposal for anyone 18 years or older has residents and housing advocates crying foul.

The American Civil Liberties Union charges the public agency seeks to place a double standard on the poor. […]

Agency officials argue they need more tools to fight crime, particularly the drug scourge, in CHA developments.

* The Sun-Times editorialized in favor of the plan

On this thorny issue, which raises the hackles of civil libertarians and public housing advocates, we are siding with what we believe is the silent majority of CHA residents.

We think they want drug testing.

Not to punish poor people for living in public housing. And not to stigmatize anyone, though we appreciate that is a real risk.

We’re tentatively backing drug testing because it can potentially make newly revamped CHA developments safer and set a tone that illegal activity is simply not tolerated.

Because God knows that wasn’t the case with the old public housing projects. Over the last decade, the CHA has torn down its projects, displaced thousands of residents and begun to rebuild. The last thing it wants is to recreate the high-rise ghettos it once had.

Mandatory drug testing could be one small part of a larger effort to make sure that doesn’t happen.

* The Question: Do you support mandatory drug tests for everyone 18 years and older as a prerequisite for admittance to public housing? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments.


- Posted by Rich Miller        


129 Comments
  1. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 5:48 am:

    Pretty hard to be low-income these days.

    Live in Public Housing? Get drug tested because you are probably a criminal.

    Use a LINK Card? Make sure you have your photo on it because you probably stole it or really have 10 LINK Cards because if you do, you are living large and on the gravy train.


  2. - wndycty - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:09 am:

    No. Its discriminatory against folks based upon income/social class. If this is acceptable then it should also be required to test the CEO’s of businesses who receive corporate public assistance in the form of tax incentives, auto industry bailouts, TARP, stimulus dollars, government contractors, landlords who accept section 8 residents, etc.

    Would folks who receive vouchers to send their kids to private/charter schools be required to be tested? If not, why not? After all those are my tax dollars, right?

    Laws like this tell the poor “you are second class citizens and therefore not afforded the rights, freedoms and pursuit of liberty afforded to others.”

    This is nothing but a continuation of the demonization of “welfare queens” that started under Reagan. AND DON’T THINK FOR ONE MINUTE that race* many who support this, it is. I would think those who bemoan the whole “Nany state” thing would oppose this without any equivocation.

    Do I want my tax dollars paying for someone’s drug habit? No. But that shouldn’t only apply to folks who receive government assistance for housing/food, it should also apply to folks who receive government assistance for ANYTHING.

    *Notice I said “many” not “anyone” who supports this so relax before claiming I am playing the race card.


  3. - wndycty - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:12 am:

    Whoops let me rewrite paragraph #4 from my 6:09 am post it should read:

    “This is nothing but a continuation of the demonization of “welfare queens” that started under Reagan. AND DON’T THINK FOR ONE MINUTE that race* does not play a role for many who support this, it does. I would think those who bemoan the whole “Nany state” thing would oppose this without any equivocation.”

    *Notice I said “many” not “anyone” who supports this so relax before claiming I am playing the race card.


  4. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:55 am:

    Among other misgivings I have, the easiest drug to detect is marijuana.

    Can someone be an occasional weed smoker and be a good resident of public housing. I think so.

    We’re close to legalizing weed anyways.

    And if someone smokes weed, what’s the alternative to giving him/her public housing? Giving a Section 8 voucher? Having the person be homeless?

    Do you have to get drug tested to get a Section 8 voucher? If CHA won’t take people who test positive for drugs, does this mean that a higher percentage of Section 8 tenants will have substance abuse issues? Will this result in fewer landlords accepting Section 8 tenants?


  5. - independent - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:55 am:

    what a waste of time and money, so if someone tests positive for drugs, then what throw them to the curb? Lets say you a a nineteeen year old mom who need housing support but she did what many college students do smoke some pot, you test her then make her and her child homeless?


  6. - Wensicia - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:12 am:

    No, this goes way over the line. You are stigmatizing a certain social class, mostly made up of minorities. I’m surprised anyone would even try something like this.


  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:19 am:

    No. It’s an expensive, invasive, degrading procedure — and I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to solve.

    All drug dealers are on drugs? All drug dealers and/or users are over 18?

    This is red-meat for some that accomplishes nothing.

    As a condition of occupancy, you can certainly require residents to agree not to use illicit drugs. If they’re found to have violated their lease, you can toss them.


  8. - Man in the Middle - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:27 am:

    No. We’ve already lost the drug war, just as an earlier generation failed at enforcing Prohibition.


  9. - Mike Huntoon - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:43 am:

    Drug testing is invasive and expensive, so for that reason and many more my answer is no!

    Unless all individuals accepting tax dollars (including public employees, farmers accepting subsidies or other assistance, every employee of a corporation receiving a tax break or grant, students getting financial assistance, and every senior and disabled person getting social security) are also required to drug test to get their benefit/salary, then this requirement is clearly discriminatory. From my perspective it is also racist, and really nothing more than class warfare.


  10. - Palatine - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:49 am:

    No. I don’t support it wholesale. It goes way over the line.


  11. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:56 am:

    Another stupid idea by an over reaching government entity. Emphatic no, however it may be appropriate that benefits be pulled for anyone convicted of felony drug charges.


  12. - Justice - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:13 am:

    Not only do I think this is a good idea, I also think anyone receiving federal or state funds or federal or state assistance should be drug tested.

    It has nothing to do with race, in my opinion, but does have to do with accountability and responsibility.

    Next, we should test legislators for ineptness, pandering, dishonesty, and for accepting compensation for not doing their jobs. Well, we did do that through the voting process back when folks actually voted.


  13. - Montrose - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:17 am:

    Nope. Others have summed up my thoughts - too expensive, demonizes the poor, solves nothing. Take the money that would be spent on drug testing and add it to the money being spent on substance use treatment and other supports.


  14. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:19 am:

    So, after you kick out all the drugies from the public housing what do you do with them. Put them in some other subsidized mess-that’s what. I would say yes, kick them out-if it weren’t just going to cost the taxpayers more somewhere else.

    What they should do is build large, high rise buildings for these folks. Make the most use of the space and provide all their rental needs so they have more drug money.


  15. - OneMan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:20 am:

    This is going to sound dumb, but do you see anything in there that says if you test positive you are out?

    I can see the logic of it might keep some of the problems out (as well as give people a reason to stay clean).

    I am a weak yes on this


  16. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:27 am:

    absolutely not…let’s also propose that you get tested for drugs before you rent an apartment or buy a house…
    you’re probably a bigger risk for default or non payment of rent if you are an addict, no?


  17. - Liandro - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:32 am:

    Tentative yes. To all the alarmists upthread who bemoan that this is making it to hard to be poor…yeah, that’s so sweet of you to offer them free housing in crime-ridden, drug-saturated areas away from the rest of us. How very big of you.

    That’s not to say there isn’t valid concerns here, but to immediately go to the standard liberal talking points about how this is racdist, and it stigmatizes certain classes, blah blah blah, please. You put more emphasis on appearances and appeasing your own “conscience” than actually solving the problems facing these groups of people. Political correctness trumps the real fight to make their lives better.

    It hits everyone, so it’s not exactly discriminating. The best question above is what to do when someone tests hot. Warnings? Forced rehab? Getting kicked out? I’m all for making these neighborhoods better, and if this is a possible solution I support it. My biggest concern is that once the government sets up its programs and the initial buzz has worn off, the public doesn’t pay attention as much. And that is where abuse, civil liberty violations, etc., really start to creep in.


  18. - sad - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:35 am:

    The drug war is creating a permanent underclass. Ideas like this one only help to hasten the decline of this country.


  19. - Excessively Rabid - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:43 am:

    No. Even in the bad old days of public housing, many or most of the residents were law-abiding folks who were just trying to do the best they could - and a lot of times trying to bring up children or grandchildren in very difficult circumstances. At the minimum, there needs to be some kind of threshold event that triggers drug testing. No point in spending tax dollars just to humiliate church-going grandmas. Agreed that these folks want drugs to be discouraged in their environment. But you have to do it with respect for the Constitution and for them as people.


  20. - sad - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:44 am:

    Are they going to be tested to see if they have alcohol in their system?? Oh. That’s right. We don’t consider alcohol a “drug” anymore.


  21. - JustaJoe - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:45 am:

    Sure. CHA should be able to set requirements. It doesn’t unfairly target the poor…people must qualify, low-income-wise, to get public housing, so with public housing there already is that “stigma”. Passing drug testing would actually remove a stigma associated with those in public housing, so I think the Sun-Times is on target.


  22. - Liberal Lady - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:49 am:

    I don’t think this is picking on a less advantaged group.

    Although I have no problem with state workers, and companies with state contracts also being tested, people in public housing are receiving a gift from taxpayers. I think that they should have that assistance, but they’re not doing anything to earn this money; they just get it because they need it. Employees of the government work to earn their taxpayer funded income, they’re not accepting (what should be) conditional gifts from the government.


  23. - Kevin Highland - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:49 am:

    This sounds like a decent plan help lower the crime rate and welfare costs. I personally think that if you have to be drug tested to work at walmart then you should probably be drug tested for section 8 housing, gov’t subsidized housing, and other welfare programs.


  24. - Liandro - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:52 am:

    I’m not a big fan of the drug war, or at least how it is waged in police actions, but I think you miss the fact that maybe the drugs themselves also have a big impact on making a “permanent underclass”. That would seem to be an obvious point…

    Quite the dramatic assertion: “Ideas like this one only help to hasten the decline of this country”. Now if you could provide the thoughtful, nuanced argument that should have preceded that assertion we could have a real discussion going.


  25. - Fed up - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:53 am:

    I don’t know if drug testing will solve any of the problems involving public housing. The money could be better spent on head start programs for residents or job training. Breaking the cycle of poverty so that generation after generation of the same family doesn’t end up in public housing.


  26. - art - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:54 am:

    no. unless the resident has voluntarily enrolled in some drug treatment program that regularly reviews their progress, there’s no need for such an invasive tactic. can’t public housing be a place where hard on their luck families can have a decent place to live? if we place non-violent contingencies on the basic needs of humanity, then i suppose we should just abandon the social safety net and scream “every man for themselves…especially you single moms”


  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 8:57 am:

    We have a waiting list of more than ten thousand people seeking drug treatment and more cuts in treatment funding on the way.

    When we fully fund treatment, maybe then.


  28. - Seriously??? - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:00 am:

    What happens if you test positive? Do you get access to treatment. Or just tossed out on the street?


  29. - Illinois Mom - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:01 am:

    YES - public housing, any public aid in general, as well as ALL public employees who are paid by TAX DOLLARS! The taxpayer should be entitled to the most bang for his or her buck & sorry, we ain’t gettin’ it. I don’t feel like paying to enable someone’s drug habit, & that’s exactly what I’m forced to do when my tax money is used in this way.


  30. - sadie - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:05 am:

    No - not without some indication of issues - there needs to be some type of suspicion without is constitues illegal search and seizure - and could be a violation of the constitution.
    If this goes then all people who apply to rent any apartment may also be tested?


  31. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:07 am:

    There are many companies that require a drug test before employment is finalized as well as random checks during the course of the years. not as unusual as one would think.

    Of course for a company, a bad drug tests gets you fired or treatment, what happens when you fail the CHA test?


  32. - Liandro - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:08 am:

    Yellow Dog raises a good point, too…can we treat that many, if that is the route? On the flip side, is it a problem that we give drug users discounted or free housing that frees up money for their continued drug use? Isn’t that enabling?

    And what about the clean families trying to raise kids next to drug users and sellers? Aren’t we undermining their efforts to better themselves surrounding them in an environment that has proven to suck others in generation after generation?

    I do still think the treatment point is valid, though.


  33. - Montrose - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:24 am:

    Illinois Mom said:

    “YES - public housing, any public aid in general, as well as ALL public employees who are paid by TAX DOLLARS! The taxpayer should be entitled to the most bang for his or her buck & sorry, we ain’t gettin’ it. I don’t feel like paying to enable someone’s drug habit, & that’s exactly what I’m forced to do when my tax money is used in this way.”

    If that is the argument, we should probably institute drug tests before anyone can claim homeowner’s deductions on their taxes. That saved money could go towards their drug habit. Or, for that matter, we need folks to be clean and sober before they use the roads or call the fire department. I do not want my tax dollars going towards enabling someone to drive to their drug dealer.

    Look, we can have a civil conversation about the value of drug testing without letting the conversation devolve into a skewed perception of what it means to hold someone accountable for the use of tax dollars. It is always subjectively applied and does nothing to further the conversation about what is best for society as a whole.

    Finally, I just want support YDD’s statement. If we really want to address the problem, we have to have the resources in place for treatment. CHA does some of that now, but not enough to support to make this policy work.


  34. - Robert - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:26 am:

    No - put funds that would be used for testing into treatment instead.


  35. - Cranky Old Man - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:27 am:

    I’m kind of a “yes” on this. I was stronger until I read some of the comments here. One that was repeated is what happens to those that fail the drug test. If treatment isn’t possible, here’s a possible, though very unlikely, solution: All those that pass are put into the revamped units and those that fail go to the old ones. To me, the “clean” people are being victimized by being forced to lived among those that are probably more likely to be commiting crimes. I realize that I don’t have an answer that will please everyone, but who really does?


  36. - lincolnlover - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:32 am:

    Yes. As far as it being discriminatory, down here in Bloomington, landlords are held accountable for what their tenant do. Some of them have begun to include drug-testing as part of the rental agreement. Mandatory drug testing is also required for many professions (those requiring a CDL, for instance) and at almost every high school in Illinois as part of their sports programs. This has nothing to do with discrimination - it has everything to do with reality.


  37. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:32 am:

    =Not only do I think this is a good idea, I also think anyone receiving federal or state funds or federal or state assistance should be drug tested.==

    So, everyone in the country should be tested for drugs? Everyone who receives Social Security, MEdicare, Medicade, housing assistant, financial aid for college, FDIC protection, home loan support, uses the roads, has kids in school, calls the police, etc.

    We ALL receive government services and benefit from them. I haven’t heard talk of drug testing for all the folks in the financial industry simply because their industry was propped up by the federal government. Likewise, for the myriad of other areas where all of us receive government benefits.


  38. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:35 am:

    No. Though I haven’t seen what exactly would happen to those who test positive, I think the evidence is pretty clear that punishment does little to discourage drug use. Meanwhile, would innocent kids be forced into the street because their parents can’t be responsible? Spend the money on treatment instead.


  39. - Responsa - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:41 am:

    I note that this is the CHA proposing this. (Not some church or a fringe group with past antipathy toward the poor). To the extent that probably few of us commenting here live in, and are trying to raise children in a CHA environment, perhaps the CHA–who are the ones charged with executing the housing programs and using taxpayer’s dollars– know more about this situation than the average observer. The libertarian in me doesn’t like the sound of such wide-spread drug testing. But I can’t ignore that the CHA feels they are contending with a serious problem which they are trying to address in order to make things safer for families living in CHA housing. Weak yes for me.


  40. - lakeview - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:42 am:

    Yes - the day that the citizens of Winnetka require drug testing for residency in their fair town.


  41. - Louis Howe - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:47 am:

    Yes…Kids have enough problems growing up in public housing, they don’t need drug dealers prowling around.


  42. - x ace - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:05 am:

    Vote is No - However would be all for a constitutional means of keeping drugs out.


  43. - Kevin Highland - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:06 am:

    @Sadie,

    The search is voluntary, don’t apply for public housing or welfare, don’t take the drug test. If you want to renew your lease then show up for the testing.


  44. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:06 am:

    Drug tests–especially done in large batches are notoriously unreliable. You do far better to take people who are actually suspected of drug use, make sure to do A & B tests through a good laboratory and you’d have a far more effective policy that would do much more to reduce tenants with drug problems.


  45. - Sonic Infidel - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:16 am:

    I would be in favor of this if the following conditions were part of the deal:
    1) If you test positive, you are given a grace period to attend drug rehab.
    2) If you test negative the first time, you should be exempt from further testing for a set time period…maybe a few years, maybe for however long you’re there.


  46. - Anon - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:19 am:

    Funny how 90% of the comments here are against the policy, yet there is a 75% YES response to the actual poll so far. The blowhards are liberals and the voters are pragmatists– and silent.


  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:19 am:

    I am a weak ‘yes,’ but concerned about the methods to roll it out. It could be so ineffective as to be another waste of money. For instance, is this a one-time test, or repeated? If repeated, it is randomized timing? How is it applied to non-residents (which I anecdotally understand are the biggest problems– especially dealers)? And the big question is what are the penalties and how are they applied?


  48. - stuckinthemiddlewithyou - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:24 am:

    YES-Your (mine as well) tax dollars pay my salary and as a condition of my employment I am subjected to random drug testing. I get fired if I test positive. So if it’s good enough for me….it’s good enough for those who are receiving subsidized housing, LINK cards etc. You don’t like the terms and conditions then seek housing or help elsewhere, on your dime and not mine. Stop enabling and coddling.This is not unreasonable.


  49. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:25 am:

    - The blowhards are liberals and the voters are pragmatists– and silent. -

    Maybe these silent pragmatists are really just typical reactionaries who have trouble putting together coherent sentences.


  50. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:27 am:

    No. If this wasn’t a family-oriented blog, I’d add an expletive or two.

    We spend a lot of time wrestling over the first and second amendments here, but almost no time on the fourth, which is being eroded every day. For those of you not clear on the 4th Amendment, and those who said yes to this question, here it is:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    How is this concept not an unreasonable (thus illegal) search? We’ll fight for our right to free speech or to keep and bear arms, but not this?


  51. - Johnny USA - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:29 am:

    When I objected to getting drug tested in order for employment (which involved government contracts), I was told “Don’t like it? Find another job”

    So now I say to residents of public housing who object to drug testing “Don’t like it? Seek residence elsewhere”

    Is it fair to make drug testing part of employment where you aren’t operating heavy machinery, operating on people, or driving vehicles?


  52. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:30 am:

    How much does this cost? Has it been shown to improve public housing? What are people who fail drug tests expected to do for housing?


  53. - Can't Say My Nickname - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:30 am:

    Yes- if the drug users have money for pot and other drugs, they shouldn’t be taking taxpayer money.


  54. - Johnny USA - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:31 am:

    47th Ward - Why are the rights of some more important than the rights of others?

    See my post above.

    “How is this concept not an unreasonable (thus illegal) search? ”

    Kinda like we can bring drug dogs to road side safety checkpoints? TSA searches? The list goes on and on….


  55. - PES123 - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:37 am:

    stuckinthemiddlewithyou could not have said it any better!!!


  56. - Cranky Old Man - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:39 am:

    47th, ===“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”=== So, if I get this right, drug users are included in the “shall be secure in their persons, homes, etc., but the law abiding citizens don’t have the right to be secure from them and the dealers. If the users are there, the dealers will follow. Am I close or seriously confused?


  57. - GoldCoastConservative - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:42 am:

    Yes. The government is routinely puts conditions on receipients of extraordinary benefits (i.e. free rides for seniors, etc.).


  58. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:43 am:

    Johnny,

    My point was that we’ve let it erode too far. The War on Drugs led to the passage of the drug free workplace act. We allow police to use drug dogs, we allow the government to search us despite the fact that in many cases, these are unconstitutional. Nobody except the ACLU spoke out.

    If you don’t like being drug tested, you should fight it, but don’t pretend their is some equivalence between your job and public housing. For all I know, you drive a cement truck, where driving high poses a danger to others. Public housing residents are not posing a danger to anyone simply by living in a subsidized apartment.

    But once we allow the government to take away our rights, we’re on the slip ‘n slide to having no rights. Again, if you support the 2nd Amendment, you should support the 4th with equal vigor.


  59. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:45 am:

    ===Am I close or seriously confused?===

    You’re seriously confused Old Man.


  60. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:52 am:

    Cranky Old Man,

    There is a way around the 4th Amendment protections, it is called a warrant, which must be based on reasonable suspicion. It is not often the 47th and I agree, but this is one. He would disagree with me when I say the problem is the abuse of taxpayer money to provide subsidized housing, especially to unqualified individuals and for unlimited amounts of time.


  61. - Jon Zahm - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:57 am:

    Since many of the folks who pay the taxes to support public housing have to submit to drug testing as a condition of that employment, it is only fair that the recipients of those benefits do likewise.


  62. - Johnny USA - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:03 am:

    “but don’t pretend their is some equivalence between your job and public housing. ”

    So there are ‘good’ violations of the 4th Amendment and ‘bad’ violations of the 4th Amendment, with my job drug testing being a ‘good’ violation, and public housing being a ‘bad’ violation. Got it.

    I have no choice but not to support the public housing people. My mantra is CONSISTENCY - not allowing the government to pick and choose winners and losers.

    This is more important to me - taking away the government’s ability to pick and choose winners and losers. And I think that will only happen if we ALL suffer the boot of oppression - not just some of us.

    So send go ahead and send the drug dogs into the projects. We send them into road safety checkpoints in Schaumburg, and into the office places in Niles.

    There is no reason to do any of that, but we should at least be consistent.


  63. - Johnny USA - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:08 am:

    OOops..before anyone says “we don’t send drug dogs into the projects and into Niles” I meant it figuratively - the government attempting to sniff out drug use.

    Not literally, of course.


  64. - Cranky Old Man - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    47th, :). This is a great break from push mowing. 90+ around here. I understand that “the people” SHOULD be protected from goverment doing as they please, but what about the law abing residents of public housing? Do we have no obligation to them or is it a situation of telling them, “Sorry, the drug users/dealers aren’t a goverment entity so you’re stuck with them. Keep your heads down when you hear gunshots.” I really don’t know. Is that what it comes down to?


  65. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:13 am:

    I’m not picking on you Johnny, illegal searches are wrong. Period. Whether it’s at your job or at a checkpoint in Schaumburg, unless there is probable cause to search, the search is illegal.

    But for too long most of us looked the other way and shrugged our shoulders. Public housing residents? Who cares? Your job? Who cares?

    We all should care. “First they wanted to drug test somebody else, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t one of those people…”

    The War on Drugs is bad enough, don’t get me started on the Patriot Act.


  66. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:18 am:

    No one is forcing people to live in CHA housing. If folks were forced to live there maybe the testing would be inapproriate w/out a warrant. There are employers out there who require regular testing. It is a matter of choice. You aren’t being forced to work for any particular employer - hey, if you want to work for me, here’s the cup.

    What I can’t understand is how these poor folks can afford the drugs in the first place. Many here have said that if drugs were legalized it would cause the price to go down, thereby lowering the need for criminal activity to pay for the overpriced substances. Following that logic, these folk can’t both be able to afford these high cost illegal drugs and be eligible for low rent housing.

    People make choices. Their choices have consequences. Since I, as a taxpayer, am being required to assist those less fortunate than myself in the form of rent subsidies and public housing I think it only fair that some reasonable requirments be in place. The money we save in reduced subsidies can go into drug treatment programs.


  67. - sadie - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:18 am:

    We do know that drug users to no have to apply to live in the public housing units - they have not in the past - they “stay with friends/relatives” whomever.
    The drug war never worked even when it was proabition - what the drug war did was build the prisons and drive the states brook and create large groups of individuals with not much future - take a look at New York and the other states that have repealed the drug laws - oh - by the way they use drug in my suburb and they die from od’s there to


  68. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    I’m a renter. As a condition of the lease I signed, I cannot be in possession of illegal drugs or firearms. If I am caught with either I can be evicted. I don’t see why CHA residents should be held to a higher standard than that.

    Besides the fact the testing will be a waste of time and money.


  69. - Esquire - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:25 am:

    In Cook County, there was a program in which the State’s Attorney’s office pressed landlords to evict drug users and drug dealers from their apartment buildings. It was a quite controversial measure designed to deal with problem buildings where the police had visited frequently. Not sure if the prosecutors are still targeting landlords who rent to such tenants.

    SNARK: Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more helpful if we required elected and appointed public officials to be subject to random drug testing?


  70. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:26 am:

    Because Ron Stephens shouldn’t live in public housing.


  71. - Guzzlepot - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:35 am:

    No. Where is the money going to come from for this testing. The State can’t even pay its current vendors, how is it going to pay the new ones that would be required for this. Also, this would probably be a tricky group to test. Lots of seniors who have many legal prescription meds in their systems which might show as false positives.


  72. - downhereforyears - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:38 am:

    Absolutely. The amount of money spent on illegal drugs, by addicts, is astounding. Why should we subsidize anyone’s housing ( unless they are in inpatient treatment)so they can remain on drugs. I say TEST EVERYONE. And for those who played the race card, get a life, this is not about race.


  73. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:41 am:

    - No one is forcing people to live in CHA housing. -

    Yes, I’m sure they’re all staying there instead of a Gold Coast condo because they enjoy the atmosphere.


  74. - downhereforyears - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    At least have the decency to explain why.


  75. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:55 am:

    STL,

    I note that you don’t address the premise of my argument, you just post a drive by comment. Fairly typical.

    Perhaps if they weren’t blowing all their cash on the illegal drugs they CHOOSE to use they could afford to pay for unsubsidized housing. Perhaps they could have done better in school if they chose not to abuse drugs. Perhaps they could hold a higher paying job if they weren’t abusing the drugs. This rule focuses on behavior which the individual can control.

    Perhaps public housing would be a safer place for children without them being trapped and exposed to drug abusers.


  76. - FDR - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:58 am:

    No!

    This stupid and degrading! Should we drug test the oil executives before we give them tax breaks. How about the rich who are giving all kinds of tax breaks. This is just a feel good “law and order” attempt that will accomplish nothing.

    I agree that we have to many people stuck in the cycle of poverty; it will take community leadership along with education, among other things to improve this situation.


  77. - Colossus - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:01 pm:

    I voted no for all the reasons spelled out above. Here’s an angle that hasn’t been brought up yet:

    16,000 families, estimate 2 adults per family, x $20/test and we’re looking at $640,000 for the tests themselves, not to mention staff to administer the program. I think $1M is not out of range here.

    Take out the details of this legislation and ask yourself if the state should be voluntarily expending another million dollars on anything at all. Sure, when you’re in favor of something, of course it makes sense cost-wise, but you cannot possibly be in favor of this proposal if you are also concerned about the state’s financial situation. If you’re so concerned about YOUR TAX MONEY (snark) being spent to support “those kinds of people”, then you should also be concerned about the state taking on new expenses, regardless of what they are aimed at. Cuts and austerity don’t only apply to things you don’t like, and this is not a program that will reduce expenditures down the line. In fact, I doubt it would even result in any savings at all.

    So the question should be, do you think the state should spend money on an ideological point that will bring no real benefit other than knowing you are humiliating the worst off in our society?


  78. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:02 pm:

    If were going to drug test everyone who gets government benefits, then lets start with ComEd and the gaming industry.


  79. - aaronsinger - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:10 pm:

    “I’m a renter. As a condition of the lease I signed, I cannot be in possession of illegal drugs or firearms. If I am caught with either I can be evicted. I don’t see why CHA residents should be held to a higher standard than that.

    Besides the fact the testing will be a waste of time and money.”

    @Cheryl44:

    Does your landlord drug test you? Or is that only in place in case you get *caught* with drugs? There’s a pretty big difference with this.

    The tax dollars/accountability argument seems pretty damn stupid. Roads are subsidized with taxes, you need a license to drive on roads, so how about we drug test everyone applying for a driver’s license? Or anyone applying for a homeowner’s tax credit, as mentioned above? You could go on and on here.

    That’s not to say that I think the CHA’s plan here is inherently a bad idea. The War on Drugs is a joke and an abject failure that has caused more problems than it has solved.

    The question is how to solve the problems of public housing, the poor, and rampant drug use and crime, the latter two forever linked. What the answer is to that question, I don’t know.


  80. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:13 pm:

    –Perhaps if they weren’t blowing all their cash on the illegal drugs they CHOOSE to use they could afford to pay for unsubsidized housing. Perhaps they could have done better in school if they chose not to abuse drugs. –

    So the presumption is that everyone over 18 in the CHA is blowing their cash on drugs? The old ladies who would be subject to testing, too?

    Perhaps if that statement had any facts or figures behind it, I would CHOOSE to take it seriously.

    I would be curious if the CHA has any particular vendor in mind to administer these tests. They’re not cheap. If it goes down, someone will make a bundle.


  81. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:16 pm:

    While blacks have only slightly higher drug use than whites (10% v 8%), whites receive 60% of drug treatment compared to 20% for blacks.

    Discrimination based on addiction is de facto racial discrimination.

    10% of Americans have used drugs in the past month. The vast majority pose no threat to anyone else, and banning them from public housing serves no legitimate public policy purpose.


  82. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    But this will make someone who owns a drug testing company really rich. Especially since drug testing in schools is really falling out of favor.


  83. - Montrose - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:21 pm:

    “Perhaps if they weren’t blowing all their cash on the illegal drugs they CHOOSE to use they could afford to pay for unsubsidized housing. Perhaps they could have done better in school if they chose not to abuse drugs. Perhaps they could hold a higher paying job if they weren’t abusing the drugs. This rule focuses on behavior which the individual can control.”

    Substance abuse is a disease. It requires intensive treatment to manage. You make it sound like it just a matter of shutting it on and off like a faucet.

    Moreover, poverty is a complex issue that you are actively choosing not to understand.


  84. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:34 pm:

    Lets not muddle the distinction between drug users and drug dealers. Convicted drug dealers are already banned from CHA.


  85. - titan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:44 pm:

    Is there a substantial problem with the drug-altered committing crimes in/from public housing?

    If yes, then this is a way to help with the problem.


  86. - Kilroy - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:52 pm:

    “The vast majority pose no threat to anyone else, and banning them from public housing serves no legitimate public policy purpose. ”

    Maybe if they were off drugs they could move out of public housing so that someone else (perhaps more deserving?) could move in?

    I am thinking about the non-drug using mom with small children trying to get back on track (you know the people who public housing was designed for) instead of the crackheads.

    There are many other very positive policy reasons to get drug addicts out of the housing complex: the violence they bring, illegal activities such as theft, etc.

    Why should a few spoil it for the rest?


  87. - Rudy - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 12:59 pm:

    The CHA administration will get more cooperation from its residents if it looks for new ways to become a helpful resource for their needs, rather than to pose as the FBI. That will create more estrangement and hostility.

    If residents are doing coke or heroin and would like to quit, it would be a better use of CHA resources to create new drug rehab opportunities.


  88. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:07 pm:

    – At the minimum, there needs to be some kind of threshold event that triggers drug testing.–

    Better yet, how about something wacky like reasonable cause to get a warrant to make criminal cases and evict drug dealers? Like they do in the United States.

    Some folks are in an awful hurry to cast aspersions on all people in public housing and to take away their 4th Amendment rights for some very dubious and unsupported goal.

    Well, when it’s somebody else’s rights, it’s a whole lot easier.

    The CHA has a pot of money for this? It must be burning a hole in their pocket to give the contract to the “right” vendor.


  89. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:10 pm:

    I’m a landlord of sorts with one little rental house. I use a lease that requires people to be good tenants. My lease doesn’t require drug testing but it does forbid any *illegal* activity on the property; it even says three police service calls (implied in a year, since that is the lease period) to the property is a violation of the lease. A violation means the lease is broken and I can toss them out. I don’t go looking for violations …but if activity is brought to my attention, I take action as warranted. In almost 20 years of renting and about 7 tenants, I’ve only invoked that clause once … and then only because the tenants were dumb enough to keep causing problems after multiple warnings … plus they were dumb enough to keep doing things with retired law enforcement across the street from them and active law enforcement a couple doors up from them.

    Maybe the CHA should consider rules like that … and then enforce them.


  90. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    In my suggestion that people be denied housing if convicted of a felony drug (and let’s include weapons) violation, the concerns about the cost of testing is also addressed. The drug test becomes unnecessary since anyone convicted of the felony would immediately lose their CHA voucher, and be prohibited from living in the housing unit. This process is self-policing, and doesn’t violate any 4th amendment rights of an individual. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime…


  91. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:13 pm:

    word,

    There is no place in my post where I suggest that ALL folks who live in public housing use drugs. Please mark out where I suggest that.

    What kind of statistics do I need to present that someone using illegal drugs (which we know are expensive due to being illegal) perhaps has less disposable income available to pay for rent? That only requires basic math, not a statistical treatise.

    I don’t know how many people who live in public housing use/abuse illegal drugs. Arrest reports tend to suggest that alot of drug trafficking is going on there. The issue, I believe, is one of safety. Safety for the law-abiding residents who can’t afford to live elsewhere and must survive living in such an environment. Safety for the children who, we hope, can grow up choosing NOT to abuse drugs. Perhaps drug testing won’t ensure that - that is debatable. For those non-abusers who can’t afford to pay full rent somewhere else, I bet they would prefer to live in safety. I don’t need statistics to know that is true, too.


  92. - sadie - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:18 pm:

    You do understand that most drug users don’t live in public housing and never have. Most drug users use prescription drug that are no prescribed for them - or that they have managed to get - the numbers of illegal drug users in Illinois are increasing now - Chicago land (the suburbs are huge in this) has the highest rate of heroin od’s in the country - treatment services has been reduced each year for a very long time - the great increase in heroin users in among teenage and young adults in the suburban Cook and surrounding counties - although southern illinois is holding its own


  93. - Johnston - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:21 pm:

    Whatever ’safety’ rational the government uses to grope people at TSA checkpoints at airports can also be applied here for public housing residents.


  94. - Justice - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:34 pm:

    After reading all the reasons not to drug test, including the 4th amendment, my position is that we should drug test all recipients of federal and state funding for housing, food stamps, unemployment benefits, and those receiving federally subsidized child care payments.

    The answer as to penalty for failing said drug test I’ll leave that up to another question of the day. However, there should be a penalty and a reward of sorts for those genuinely seeking help, and for those participating in accredited drug rehab programs.

    Of course we can bury our collective heads in the sand and simply say there is no way to handle this fairly and therefore should do nothing.

    Our house is on fire and we sit discussing whether we can use water to put it out, whose water to use, and if we should use a little or a lot, if it is fair to the fire to even use water, or simply wait till it burns itself out.


  95. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    @Cincy -

    Anyone with any felony conviction is already banned from CHA.

    @Johnston -

    Except that someone carrying explosives on to a plane poses a threat to other people.

    You can’t say that about someone smoking pot in their living room.


  96. - zatoichi - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:36 pm:

    Our company has a random drug test policy that includes everyone. It has been enforced several times. People have left because of it. If CHA wants the residence to have some skin in the game, I do not see a serious problem. No one forcing anyone to live there or work here. Use all the ‘drug war failure’ examples you want (and there are many), it’s still a choice the potential renter has to make if they want to live at CHA.


  97. - hammer - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:41 pm:

    No. This is difficult. I agree with whichever poster characterized public housing as a gift that has no basis other than need and can last forever. For that, we need to do something.

    Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to add more people to our overtaxed drug treatment centers. And with public housing already being the gutter there’s really no place else for people to go if they can’t meet a sobriety requirement (save for self determination). Those people will likely wind up on grandma’s couch or with family or friends anyway.

    In the short term, it’s painful but I would reinforce zero tolerance on firearms, crime, etc.

    The longterm solution is career track jobs. If people have career track jobs they’re less inclined to commit crime. Every drug user is not an addict in need of treatment. If we can get CHA residents on paths to careers and not just mid market sales or telemarketing or other bs they’ll move out quicker and have less time (and tolerance) for the problems CHA is trying to address (and buy drugs with their own money, which is what we all want).


  98. - Johnston - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:47 pm:

    YDD -

    “Except that someone carrying explosives on to a plane poses a threat to other people. You can’t say that about someone smoking pot in their living room. ”

    I see you are taking a very narrow view that this law is attempting to only find pot smokers smoking pot in their living rooms.

    Well, I do find that view admirable, but I am more concerned with the heroin or meth addicts making public housing a living hell hole for the law abiding.

    The rights of pot smokers should not be protecting heroin, crack, and meth addicts that are ruining it for all the single moms.


  99. - aaronsinger - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:47 pm:

    “After reading all the reasons not to drug test, including the 4th amendment, my position is that we should drug test all recipients of federal and state funding for housing, food stamps, unemployment benefits, and those receiving federally subsidized child care payments. ”

    And I still say that’s incredibly stupid rationale. Why stop there? Every citizen benefits from taxpayer dollars. Maybe we should drug test every single person who has a driver’s license or even a state ID; everyone who boards a bus, train or plane; everyone who gets a tax refund, etc.

    Also, you say drug testing for subsidized child care payments? So, a child shouldn’t be in HeadStart because their parent is an addict? That makes the child’s life worse, not better. But at least it makes “the taxpayer” feel better for themselves, despite solving nothing.


  100. - Dead Head - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:55 pm:

    My biggest concern would be over, “false positives.” What would it take to prove the test was in error?


  101. - D.P. Gumby - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:57 pm:

    1. We are attempting to legalize medical marijuana, but will now throw granny from her apt in CHA…some public policy consistency.
    2. You left out the worst part of the new policy; elimination of the innocent tenant rule. Under new proposal, everyone gets evicted from apt if one tenant tests positive–this goes way too far.
    3. Based upon logic of some comments, then CTA should test all riders–CTA is tax-payer supplemented too.
    4. We have so many drug treatment programs available only now we call them prison [snark].
    5. We have so much low income housing available [snark].
    6. Does this apply to CHA board and staff?
    7. Certainly a provision similar to private leases regarding possession of illegal drugs or firearms seems reasonable, but random testing…pfft, these are homes, not prisons…yet.


  102. - Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 1:58 pm:

    Residency in public housing is not considered a legal “right” but a (dubious) “privilege.” Like a driver’s license, reasonable expectations may be placed upon individuals before being granted such privileges.

    Ample case law holds that mandatory drug testing does not constitute a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

    So where is the violation of residents’ civil rights?


  103. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 2:13 pm:

    CHA needs to get its head out of the sand and add housing with serious on-site supportive services to its portfolio. The service delivery models it uses have been serial failures that only look good on paper.

    Harm reduction models that house people who struggle with addiction exist. The CHA ignores them, just as it ignores solid research into the growing number of CHA residents who are elderly, frail and addicted. And it ignores the shortage of treatment options that others here have noted.

    Far easier to test and evict — in other words dump people — than to deal with these issues. HUD and HHS get a lot of the blame for this as well, BTW, for their inability to work together to braid financing for housing and supportive services, despite the proven benefits.


  104. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 2:47 pm:

    @Hypocrisy -

    1) Mandatory drug testing for public housing residents has never been reviewed by the courts. However, mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients was found unconstitutional.

    2) Based on the success rates of other drug testing schemes, the cost of catching ONE person with mandatory drug testing is $20,000 to $80,000. For what they propose spending on drug tests, we could hire a lot more security.

    3) I’m not sure its in the best interests of society to evict kids from CHA because one of their parents tests positive for marijuana.

    4) Let’s be clear…because marijuana stays in the system much longer than any other drug, pot smokers are the most likely to be caught.

    In fact, pot stays in the urine about ten times longer than most other drugs. Cocaine is gone in 2-4 days.

    There’s a reason our active military members prefer LSD…its taken in such small doses that its undetectable unless you specifically test for it.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.


  105. - Not a Newcomer - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:05 pm:

    I voted yes. My tax dollars are being used to pay for their housing, and probably their food, and having a drug problem may be the reason they need that assistance. Get them off drugs and save my tax dollars. What is not specifically explained in the story though is what happens going forward if they test positive? Are they kicked out onto the street or required to undergo treatment? I wouldn’t not support the former.

    (For the record, I also think the Link card shouldn’t be used to purchase soda and junk food too.)


  106. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:16 pm:

    Anonymous,

    The problem with offering on-site services is that many people either don’t want it, refuse to cooperative with it or mis-use it for personal gain. The public housing model was created decades ago amidst much fanfare and promise. The reasons why it hasn’t worked out all that well in recent years could fill another post. Suffice it to say that the costs of administering the program as it is currently run is high and the return on investment is arguably low. Adding more resources to a failed program is not the answer. This is why some public housing agencies are going to the voucher program. Since the public housing population tends to be more scattered it makes it difficult to track/treat the problems. For a variety of reasons, dispersed public housing makes some sense in that there is less concentrated problems as well. Makes it possible for families to be a little more removed from the gang bangers.

    I’m not sure how to deal with the addicted, frail elderly. I wonder just how many residents of CHA housing would fit into that group? How would you propose to deal with such a population in the current fiscal reality?


  107. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:21 pm:

    ===How would you propose to deal with such a population in the current fiscal reality?===

    For too long we’ve treated drug addiction as a criminal justice issue. In fact, it is a healthcare issue. Punishment doesn’t work, treatment does.

    Let’s start with treating these people with a little dignity instead of criminalizing their disease.


  108. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:26 pm:

    @Johnston - Meth doesnt show up in urine tests after 3-5 days. Heroin is gone after 4. THC is detectible after a month.

    If you dont think that these drug tests are most likely to catch pot smokers, you are delusional.


  109. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:31 pm:

    47th Ward,

    Treating someone with dignity doesn’t require a gov’t program. In fact, I treat most people I encounter with dignity. Yours is a somewhat empty response. The issue here is the recongition that drug abuse is a problem and should be addressed. For those folk who find themselves in high rise public housing surrounded by folk who are abusing drugs and making life for those around them a complete misery, how do you propose to show them, the law-abiding, some dignity? If you are going to create a victim mentality, please show those who work hard and follow the law/rules of the house and yet find themselves surrounded by those who have chosen to waste theirs - please show them how to survive, how to secure dignity.

    BTW, coming from a family with multiple substance abusers, I have learned about a great program that can address addiction issues. It’s called AA (NA, etc). In the phone book, there are multiple listings - many programs are held in church basements and are free. Granted, detox may be needed first but there are many hospitals in the inner city that provide at least some assistance in the short term. I am not being flip here, I know the problem is real. However, it takes a person who wants to change for change to happen. And that comes from within - no federal or state program can foster that.

    My relatives who struggle with addiction have found dignity in the challenge to stay sober - every day.


  110. - Lest we judge... - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:37 pm:

    Am I banned? I didn’t say anything nasty.


  111. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:44 pm:

    YDD,

    I can’t say for certain that a person addicted to meth uses everyday - I am just not up that much on that drug. However, what little I know about heroin addiction is that people have to inject/injest the substance more than once a day to prevent withdrawal. Now, your statement that heroin leaves the system after 4 days makes only sense if someone is using only occasionally, not someone who is addicted. How does that fit into the discussion?


  112. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:47 pm:

    I opposed to this for a number of reasons.

    One is I think it is unconstitutional. I recognize they are receiving a public benefit but that doesn’t take away your constitutional rights. I don’t want to see college kids tested because they have a Pell Grant or a motorist tested because they are driving on public streets.

    A second issue is the difficulty and cost of implementing. Are they going to test everyone? How will you confirm identities? What about seniors in the senior buildings? what about children? Then what happens if the person tests positive? I presume they will retest (with more cost involved), but then what happens? Do you evict the whole family because the 15 year old tested positive for pot? Do you provide substance abuse treatment for the offender? Do you distinguish between the type of drug for the response?

    The third major issue is unintended consequences. When the war on drugs shifted under Reagan to stopping drugs being smuggled in and stricter enforcement of laws, the drug use in this country shifted from pot to coke. So if pot stays in your system for a month, will CHA residents move to coke, alcohol, or other drugs to make it easier to test clean.

    Fundamentally, I don’t have a problem with CHA requiring good behavior from tenants, requiring tenants to work/study/volunteer, testing people with reasonable cause, or even setting time limits for living in CHA. But it strikes me that this proposal will divert money and time from addressing the real issues of crime, joblessness, poor educations, etc.


  113. - Lefty Lefty - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:48 pm:

    I don’t have time to read all of the comments at this point, but let me just point out this:

    From my front porch in a lily-white affluent western suburb of Chicago, I can honestly with first-hand knowledge state that there are pot smokers in 4 of the 9 houses I can see. So about half of the area around me would face so-far unidentified consequences if this was CHA housing. In an area with a median home price of over $200,000.

    Take the blinders off, people. Recreational drug use and alcohol are all around you. You choose to ignore it unless the stigma of low incomes is attached to it. Your attitudes may not be racist, but they are certainly biased against the poor and working class (of whom many are people of color).


  114. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 3:48 pm:

    This poll is the first one that I could not predict the results before voting, and the numbers are holding constant since this morning. But then again, how often do Wordslinger, 47th Ward, Yellow Dog Democrat and I agree on anything. Did the regular CapFax Crew® take a long weekend?


  115. - Anon 2:13 - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 4:08 pm:

    DuPage Dan, what you described at 3:16 doesn’t sound like a harm reduction housing program, it sounds more like the NA and other drug treatment programs you write about in a later post. It is pretty hard to “refuse to cooperate” in a harm reduction program.

    For DD and the others who legitimately object to subsidizing drug use with their tax dollars, let’s be clear: Under our current, crisis-driven, uncoordinated system, you are subsidizing it everyday: through the criminal justice system, emergency rooms, schools, street crime. It is running through your dollars like the electric meter on a hot day.

    Depending on the research you look at, every dollar invested in drug treatment saves between $0 - $17 in costs to the entire system (a system that only funds in silos, and doesn’t give a fig about this).

    In our zero-sum economy, harm reduction housing is, at worst, break-even and at best, a bargain. You cannot lose.


  116. - hawksfan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 4:21 pm:

    Rich I have been meaning to ask for a while, is there a way for the polls to show the total number of voters?


  117. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 4:46 pm:

    Anon 2:13,

    I agree that we subsidize this issue in a variety of ways whether we want to or not. I guess I am just one who no longer believes that the gov’t can address it. We have seen over the years many such social safety net programs that seek to address societal issues and but frequently don’t accomplish the goals set. They become yet another layer of gov’t that becomes increasing irrelevant and impossible to reform or eliminate. The providers become the constituency. Public housing is one such program. Lofty ideals and concern for those less fortunate than others and, voila, another program. That coupled with other forms of welfare have created an intractable underclass with feelings of entitlement and with little awareness of how society works. A friend of mine works in juvenile abuse and neglect court and sees many who seem to be disconnected with the world as “we” see it. Finish school, get a job, come to work on time - every day this is alien to them. Some live in a world so far removed from that they believe their world is the norm and ours is out of whack. Daniel Patrick Moynihan saw this happening - we certainly didn’t think that was the desired outcome when LBJ started the great society. But that is what happened. Lofty goals morphed into gov’t programs.

    Do I think jails/prisons are the right way to eliminate this problem? I am not entirely certain. But, throwing more $ at uncooperative, uneducated, unemployed addicts would, I fear, not reduce the prison population either. Just another gov’t program, just another layer.


  118. - SO IL M - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:41 pm:

    Yes. Very simply, if you can afford to buy drugs, then you dont need my money to pay for your house, or food, or car, or phone. Teaching irresponsibility and encouraging the use of illegal drugs is a large part of the problem. I am not telling poor people or anyone else they can not use illegal drugs. I am saying that if you can afford them it should be with your own money, not mine. We should not be teaching people dependency is ok, whether it is on drugs, alcohol, or on the government to support you.


  119. - Abu Iskandr - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:43 pm:

    Considering that a good majority of the kids actually dealing didn’t live in the projects that they were selling in, but down the street or a few blocks over, it seems to be trying to make a statement, rather than find a solution.

    But if it makes the good drug buyers in the suburbs happy….


  120. - Madashell - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 6:47 pm:

    Why are you doing this? Are public housing residents your pets to treat anyway you want to when you want to? This is such a waste of time and money! Why don’t you go stick your noses in your neighbors rental units or the condo down the hall. If you going to drug test, test homeowners and other renters alike. I don’t want to live next to any drug users! And I don’t care if they pay $75 dollars a month or $75,000 month. Go spend that money on those serious repairs you keep patching over and create a decent place live!


  121. - YES - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:16 pm:

    Thanks to the first poster who remarked, “it’s pretty hard to be low-income these days,” and the subsequent poster(s) who mentioned crime and public safety.

    1. low-income and poverty defined in USA entitlement laws supports a standard of living for recipients that is envied as luxurious by comparison with much of the world, where true poverty is a life-threatening condition where people are at daily risk to survive.

    2. the only way to eliminate poverty is for individuals to use their talents and abilities with ambition to work and use the opportunities available to earn enough to survive, thrive, and prosper.

    3. drug possession is illegal.

    4. rewarding drug use by providing housing is bad policy.

    5. criminal activity is dangerous.

    6. crime and public safety are concerns of the community, whether in public housing or not.

    7. banning drug use by residents of public housing improves their ability to earn a living, increases public safety and decreases criminal activity.

    YES. Requiring public housing residents to refrain from illegal drug use, and enforcing it by mandatory drug testing, is good policy.


  122. - SO IL M - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:18 pm:

    Madashell
    The difference is that the government is not taking money from me to give to those people. If anyone wants to use drugs, and it does not affect my life in any way, I dont care what they do. But when I have to give money from my paycheck to pay for someones housing, then it does affect my life and therefore I feel it should have stipulations. One of the main ones is that if you can afford to pay for a drug habit, then you can afford to pay for your own housing. If you want to spend money you earn on drugs have at it, and you can pay for your own housing too. Feel Free.


  123. - YES - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:28 pm:

    “The American Civil Liberties Union charges the public agency seeks to place a double standard on the poor.”

    The ACLU is wrong. It’s not a double standard on the poor (vs a different standard for the non-poor?). It’s a standard for acceptable behavior required to receive taxpayer-funded entitlement benefits. Big difference!


  124. - wishbone - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 9:28 pm:

    I am for ending the War on Drugs and abolishing the DEA, but I voted yes. You don’t have a constitutional right to public housing.


  125. - Dirt Digger - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 10:22 pm:

    Provided we do the same for all recipients of unemployment insurance, sure.


  126. - ChicagoDem - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 11:13 pm:

    Anybody who chooses to live in Public Housing already has lost a sense of dignity. A drug test won’t cause any phsychological harm. And if you suffer from drug addicition, why should it be my concern and why should bear a share of expense to provide treatment services.


  127. - Sugar Beet - Wednesday, Jun 1, 11 @ 7:20 am:

    Mandatory drug tests will be welcomed by those living there. It is a safety issue and not a matter of punishment more than anything. The mothers of young kids living there will especially appreciate it. I am not so sure that the age of 18 is young enough for the drug tests to be set for residents? However, it is as good place to start as any I guess.


  128. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, Jun 1, 11 @ 9:00 am:

    When you talk about government “benefits”, you really need to draw a line between “earned” benefits where you or your employer partially or fully pay for them and “unearned” benefits, i.e., charity / welfare.

    In the earned category I include such things as unemployment, social security (both retirement and disability), worker’s comp and medicare. Because you or your employer pays for these benefits, you have “purchased” them and you have a right to them.

    In the unearned category I include such things as LINK cards, public housing including section 8 programs, and Medicaid. I have no problems with requiring certain things / actions be taken to qualify for these types of items. They are gifts from society. If you want something totally for free, they you have to abide by whatever strings (rules) are attached to the free stuff. I’m not necessarily opposed to society providing these benefits to people who are truly unable to support themselves (I do not include drug addiction in this category) and, in return, society should expect a certain level of behavior and some level of striving to become a productive member of society. At one time we recognized that; for example, TANF stood for *temporary* assistance to needy families …


  129. - BOFH - Wednesday, Jun 1, 11 @ 9:33 am:

    I say yes. This is meant to help CHA housing projects to remain in the original intent - housing to the poor or otherwise disenfranchised, because they need it to help get back on their feet. Not crack-dens or meth factories. God only knows that Chicago needs something to that effect.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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