On a quiet, low readership Saturday, the Orange County Register posted an article, read it here, to showcase the work of Habitat for Humanity in Fullerton. This is one of the very few times that I think the City may have used Redevelopment Agency tax-dollars in a nearly responsible manner. In fact, I think it might have been the very best use of tax-dollars by the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency to date.
Usually the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency robs Peter to pay Paul. More specifically, the Agency skims tax dollars that would otherwise be directed to public services such as police, fire, street maintenance, education, etc. Then the Agency takes the fruits of their "crimes" and spends the money evicting very-low-income residents. The Agency will then strong-arms the property owners to sell their investments to the Agency before the owners can realize the return on their investment properties, all under the threat of eminent domain and an even lower return on their now doomed investment should the case go to court.
Once the property is in the hands of the Redevelopment Agency, the existing structures are bulldozed to make room for fewer units. The rental costs, much less the mortgage, for these new units is usually higher than the old tenants could possibly afford.
This leads to using public funds to export very-low-income and low-income residents from Fullerton. I suppose that is one way to deal with poverty, albeit the wrong way.
In this latest article, the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency spent $2.4 million to evict dozens of poor families, bulldoze apartments, and give the properties to Habitat for Humanity. The math works out to $218,181 per home being funded with public money.
But $2.4 million is a drop in the bucket. Let's not forget two prominent events of 2010 which I think epitomizes just how irresponsible the Agency and our own City Council has acted.
In July we learned how the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency blew through $22.7 million going through the motions outlined above. Then, realizing they needed more money to satisfy their insatiable appetite, the passed a $29 million tax bond.
It is only a matter of time before the public employee unions realize one of the many reasons cities are cutting funding for departments is because redevelopment agencies are skimming tax revenue.