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The District of Columbia Housing Authority has published draft rules that would make it a lot harder for drug users—and even the families of drug users—to receive public assistance for housing. Actually, make that nearly impossible. The new regs apply to several kinds of criminal activity, but the drug use section states:

Brother's got a drug problem? No housing for you. (Lydia DePillis)

DCHA must terminate participation and assistance for a family if:

(a) The PHA determines that any member of the household has ever been convicted of drug related criminal activity for manufacture of production of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing;

(b) Any member of the household is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state or District of Columbia sex offender program.

DCHA may terminate participation and assistance for a family if:

(a) Any household member is currently engaged in any illegal use of a drug;

(b) Any household member has engaged in any drug related criminal activity not more than three (3) years prior to the date a notice recommendation for termination for drug related criminal activity.

Under these new regulations, if your spouse uses pot, you could and your children theoretically lose your housing. In another section, the proposed rules make explicit allowance for the victims of domestic abuse: The abuser will be removed from the living situation paid for with housing vouchers, which would seem to protect innocents from being punished. What I don’t understand is this: Why shouldn’t drug use be treated the same way? Does a help a family to be kicked out of its housing if one member is suffering from a drug addiction? Certainly taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing drug dens—but those are supposed to be taken care of through the normal policing system. If they’re not, then the police aren’t doing their job. Adding the additional threat of making your family homeless may deter drug-related criminal activity, but it may also just put already-troubled families on the streets. Think of the kinds of criminal activity that generates.

Anyway, DCHA is taking comments on the proposed rules until September 3rd. Send rants either way to Hans Froelicher at hfroelic@dchousing.org.