How Section 8 Housing led to Trayvon Martin's death
A little known fact about the Zimmerman case is that the "rash of burglaries" at The Retreat at Twin Lakes was a result of newly designated Section 8 housing. As the black newspaper The Grio explains, there had been 6 housing projects in the Sanford area, which were "full of mold and falling apart for years." The decision had been made to raze the projects and redevelop the area, but the residents of the projects had to go somewhere. Government-assisted Section 8 housing in the nicer areas of Sanford was the answer. As the Grio puts it:
It was the destruction of the housing projects and the movement of the Section 8 people from the projects to the better areas of Sanford that led to the rash of burglaries in Zimmerman's community.
The six vacant housing projects are slated to be torn down, and the area redeveloped. There are plans for mixed income, single family homes. Many of the families who left the projects sifted out into greater Sanford, often receiving a less than warm welcome from the residents of the gated communities and other residential pockets in the city, like the Retreat at Twin Lakes, where Trayvon Martin was killed. After the recession devastated home prices across Florida, some homeowners began renting out their places, and HUD pays nearly all of the rent, making Section 8 an attractive offer for some desperate homeowners.
Oliver said some homeowners associations actively fought the new residents, who received rent assistance from HUD, in some cases prompting the local chapter of the NAACP to get involved.
“When they couldn’t stop them,” Oliver said, frustrated homeowners “started moving out.”
As local activist Kenneth Bentley, who runs a Florida Front Porch program that provides after school tutoring and mentoring to Goldsboro area teens, put it, the middle – and sometimes lower middle class families who bought into the townhomes and gated developments around Sanford “wanted to get away from the ghetto, but here comes the ghetto following right behind them.”
Now we can better understand the desperation of George Zimmerman and the residents at Twin Lakes. A formerly safe and pleasant, multi-racial, lower middle class community was suddenly being inundated with Section 8 housing and the resultant crime that comes with it. It is no wonder that Twin Lakes felt under siege. It is no wonder that they were all on Defcon 5, as Zimmerman's neighbor put it. It is also no wonder that Zimmerman mistook Trayvon for one of those Section 8 folks.
Had the government not forced a criminal element into the lives of hardworking people, there would not have been the rash of burglaries, the sudden fear of crime, the neighborhood watch, and, ultimately, the death of Trayvon.