The Poor Need Not Apply

New York Times Editorial

Wednesday 21 December 2005, 10:58 am

Federal loans to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina have been flowing to wealthy neighborhoods in New Orleans but not to poor ones.

The government has processed only a third of the 276,000 home loan applications it has received. And it has rejected a whopping 82 percent of those, a higher percentage than in previous disasters, on the grounds that applicants didn't have high enough incomes or good enough credit ratings.

The Bush administration encouraged poor people to apply for low-interest loans to rebuild their homes while keeping rules that would make it clearly impossible for most of them to qualify. It has engaged in the worst kind of cruelty - one that encourages the poor to think help is on the way, then swats down anyone who actually requests the promised assistance.