Outside the Box: Humboldt County, CA Thinks The Unthinkable

Bird's eye view of Eureka, California.

Has Humboldt County California gone commie? Or maybe just half as sinful — socialist?

The major purpose of government at all levels is to collect individual problems into solutions for society as a whole — social solutions in other words, like garbage collection, paving roads, or waging war.

Unfortunately, the American nation effectively brainwashed itself throughout the Cold War and beyond to treat any new or unusual proposal for social action — like promoting affordable housing — as a one-way slippery slide from social action into socialism (and often beyond to the socialism-linked and deeply dreaded communism).

But perfectly normal government social action is linked only to the political system of socialism by the word root ‘social’. Nevertheless, recent history shows that any proposal for a new or unusual form of social action is usually decried as a gateway drug to a dreaded political system.

Which is why Humboldt County’s recent exploration of affordable housing options may well be treated as a socialist snake let loose in a capitalist Garden of Eden. Humboldt County, without overtly making such a statement, is actively considering the option of developing its own social housing.

Government development and construction of housing has long been labelled ‘social housing’ in much of the English-speaking world. But it is called public housing in America today, largely to distance itself from those dreaded ‘socialist’ implications. In spite of the more neutral name, America has waged a cold war against its own public housing and tenants, one which effectively continues today.

In 1973, the Nixon administration, declared a moratorium on the use of federal funds for public housing, which remains in force. States such as California, have added further layers of difficulty for any local government considering the direct development and construction of social/public housing. Humboldt Country isn’t allowed in the housing business unless it has explicit approval from its voters.

And yet that’s just what it’s exploring.  Like other places in the United States it faces the limited affordable housing progress that results when relying on existing federal public/private partnership affordable housing programs such as LIHTC/1

With considerable courage, Humbolt is considering throwing the ‘private’ component out of the picture, along with its guaranteed profits to private enterprise. Instead, Humboldt County would begin its own non-profit development of affordable housing. Read more in the North Coast Journal: Outside The Box


  1. Low Income Housing Tax Credit


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