Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hiring for Diversity or Culture Fit?


A thin, dividing line exists between hiring for diversity and for culture fit. If hiring personnel and company decision makers are not mindful of their recruitment and selection processes, they may end up discriminating against otherwise qualified job candidates.

A good point to bear in mind is to be ethical in one's practice. To be ethical in one's recruitment and hiring practices means to be respectful of the individual candidate. Remember, most job applicants do spend time to prepare for their job hunt – resumes, setting up appointments, going through the usual stages of written exams and interviews. They also spend time to look well-groomed for their interviews.

Thus, a big responsibility lies on recruitment and hiring personnel, for their behaviors and decisions can impact job candidates in a big way too: they can either build or destroy a person's confidence and self-esteem.

This responsibility is made more challenging as hiring people are also aware of the need to hire who are the best match, not only for the position to be filled up, but to find a cultural fit for the organization.

What is Finding a Cultural Fit?
Finding a cultural fit is looking for someone who is aligned with a company's culture.

Here corporate culture is defined as the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.

According to the same source above, a company's culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction and every other aspect of operations.

Importance of Culture Fit

Because each organization has its own dynamics, it is just fitting companies seek individuals who can interrelate, blend well with the people in the company, and can perform well in their millieu.

Based on studies, culture fit benefits both employer and employees. One such research conducted with top professional firms as subjects, concluded:
hiring is more than a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Cultural similarities influenced candidate evaluation in multiple, overlapping ways. Cultural fit was a formal evaluative criterion mandated by organizations and embraced by individual evaluators. Moreover, evaluators constructed and assessed merit in their own image, believing that culturally similar applicants were better candidates. Finally, evaluators implicitlygravitated toward and explicitly fought for candidates with whom they felt an emotional spark of commonality.

On the other hand, employees find it more inspiring to work in a company where they feel a sense of belonging, the bosses and co-workers encourage a balance of teamwork and individual contribution. As important too, is the alignment of the company's work ethics with their own personal values.

Employees who are cultural fit experience greater satisfaction, and this in turn, boosts the company's bottomline. According to an infographic from Entrepreneur, businesses that have high-level engagement with employees enjoy a 28 percent increase in earnings growth, while businesses with low-level engagement suffer an 11 percent decrease in earnings growth. This is particularly problematic because only 13 percent of employees feel engaged at work. - See more at:

How Culture Fit Can Turn to Discrimination

In the name of finding the best employees, managers tend to select candidates that are like-minded, believing that those who are can contribute to their company's productivity and profitability. In fact, if done well, hiring for culture fit can indeed give great results, as one NY article said. According to the article, the concept of fit first gained traction in the 1980s. The original idea was that if companies hired individuals whose personalities and values — and not just their skills — meshed with an organization’s strategy, workers would feel more attached to their jobs, work harder and stay longer. -

But it also said that in many organizations, fit has gone rogue, […] fit was not about a match with organizational values. It was about personal fit. In these time- and team-intensive jobs, professionals at all levels of seniority reported wanting to hire people with whom they enjoyed hanging out and could foresee developing close relationships with.

Many employees report having felt left out or not fitting in with the office crowd, or with their immediate superiors, at some point in their careers. Some stayed, but many opted to move on to other jobs where they felt more accepted. One of the things these employees observed was 'favoritism.'

Take the case of a bright young technocrat in the supply chain industry who decided to join an organization with the belief it would the best career move for him at that point. He had all the credentials, skills and knowledge required of the position. He continued to attend certificate courses to gain new knowledge and skills. In the previous company, he was often recognized with employee awards due to his sterling performance and work attitude. Yet in the new company, he immediately felt his work goals, for the department, were not aligned with his immediate boss, and his contribution not appreciated. He noticed preferrential treatment for older employees. The boss demanded unrealistic goals, while at the same time grabbing credit for a job well done. Finally, when the young employee decided to resign, he was told it was not his performance, but that he was simply not a culture fit.

Favoritism, bias, preferrential treatmemt, discrimination, – these are all the same, and they create a toxic workplace and wreak havoc on one's promising career.

And their ugly pangs start to show up even in the hiring/selecting stage. The danger here is when culture fit becomes an excuse not to hire somebody, not on the basis of one's lack of the basic requirements for the job, but solely on the hiring manager's “personal fit” – race/ethnicity, class, status, education, among others.

This article on leadership tackles that risk, as well as how to overcome this – And, as happens all too often when a phrase gets popular, some of the things “cultural fit” has lately come to mean are pretty unfortunate – as in Friedman’s case; he’s defining “cultural fit” as an unhealthy and exclusionary lack of diversity.

Safeguards against Hiring Discrimination Practices

HR personnel, recruitment and hiring managers should avoid hiring discrimination practices, such as those outlined by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). This is the legal aspect of hiring.

In addition, one should observe ethics in recruitment and selection. Ethics are the basic concepts and fundamental priniciples of decent human life, and this includes such universal values as equality of all mena and womn, and human /natural rights. (Business Dictionary)

Practising ethics in recruitment and selection basically means giving respect to the individual. Respect is appreciating the worth of someone or something.
Some guidelines in the observance of ethics in recruiting and hiring: (People Manager)
- Be fair and objective in assessing a job applicant's resume, and the individual (during interviews).
- Avoid the prohibitive practices set out by the EEOC.
- Be courteous in dealing with the person.
- Based hiring decisions on facts/data, such as the candidate's qualifications, solid data gathered during the interview(s), exam(s) and observable behavior. .
- Write an assessment based on competencies and objective standards, such as the requirements of the position.
- Inform the person of the status of his/her application.
  
So, Hire for Diversity or for Culture Fit?

Gathering a great team of people that can gel together in the workplace makes working fun and productive indeed, but it runs the risk of marginalizing otherwise qualified candidates based on the subjective interpretation of culture fit of the person(s) doing the recruiting and selecting – unless these people are ethical in their practices.

Still on the other hand, even if hiring personnel observe ethics in their selection of the best candidate for the position, hiring for culture fit may also end up making the company less diverse than it wants to or should.

There is indeed a thin dividing line between building diversity in the workplace and hiring for culture fit. This then calls for the intricate art of balancing the need to meet these 2 goals.

The article on leadership mentioned above couldn't have said it any better:

how about if we make sure that when we say “someone is a cultural fit,” we mean “this person holds similar core values to the core values that are essential to who we are as an organization.” That implies that we need to get clear about what those core values are, sort for them during our hiring process – and welcome all kinds of diversity beyond that core values match. We’ll be able to build teams and organizations where employees find the work meaningful and engaging, while at the same time bringing all the uniqueness of who they are and how they think to that work. Then we’ll have organizations that deliver on their values by leveraging people’s differences, and cultural fit will be a useful standard for this century.”

Carestream Opening for Service Parts Planner, Rochester, NY


The position for Service Parts Planner, Rochester, NY, is now open at Carestream, a worldwide provider of medical and dental imaging systems and IT solutions; X-ray imaging systems for non-destructive testing; and advanced materials for the precision films and electronics markets, and DiversityWorking.com's prestigious diversity company-member.

Job Overview: The Service Parts Planner’s main responsibility will be to plan worldwide parts requirements in support of Carestream’s customer base using SAP and Prophet Planning Systems. This individual will work directly with manufacturing, worldwide planners, service engineers, and vendors to procure parts and develop stocking strategies to maximize availability and minimize inventory investment.

Job Duties & Responsibilities (among others)
  • Employ cost analysis techniques to determine inventory levels to achieve business objectives
  • Procure parts and negotiate schedules and costs with sources of supply
  • Analyze monthly reports to track progress and drive improvement opportunities
  • Interact with parts planning staff, service engineering, customer order services and warehouse to optimize parts plans and processes
Job Qualifications/Requirements (among others)
  • Minimum BS degree or equivalent experience
  • Ideally 2 years of experience and knowledge of SAP / Prophet Planning Systems highly desired.
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint skills
  • Must have experience and knowledge of Supply Chain processes to include forecasting, buying and planning.
  • Full knowledge of inventory and cost management principles
  • Excellent analytical skills
For more details about this job and to apply for it, click on this link.



Carestream Hiring a Manufacturing Mechanic, Windsor, CO


Carestream, a worldwide provider of medical and dental imaging systems and IT solutions; X-ray imaging systems for non-destructive testing; and advanced materials for the precision films and electronics markets, and DiversityWorking.com's prestigious diversity company-member, is hiring a highly qualified individual for Manufacturing Mechanic, Windsor, CO.

Job Overview: The successful candidate for the position will join a team of maintenance professionals responsible for quickly resolving and reducing all interruptions to the manufacturing process.

Job Duties & Responsibilities (among others)
  • Timely response and resolution of all manufacturing interruptions (e.g., off-hour call-ins when available
  • Actively partners with operations and engineering communities to lead process improvements to reduce waste, improve quality, increase productivity and deliver business objectives
Job Qualifications/Requirements (among others)
  • Committed to working safely, and a willingness to work overtime and adjust work schedules to accommodate plant outages and other business needs
  • Strong trouble shooting skills using a variety of calibrated equipment on a wide range of process control equipment including but not limited to pneumatic and low voltage devices.
  • Industrial mechanic trade school courses, certificate, or 3 years relevant experience
  • Must work 12 hour rotating shifts, nights and weekends; indoor and outdoor - all seasons
  • High school diploma Preferred Skills: Journeyman or Master Electrician License a plus
For more details about this job and to apply for it, click on this link.



Carestream Job Opening for Lead Coordinator, Atlanta, GA


Carestream, a worldwide provider of medical and dental imaging systems and IT solutions; X-ray imaging systems for non-destructive testing; and advanced materials for the precision films and electronics markets, and DiversityWorking.com's prestigious diversity company-member, is seeking a highly qualified individual for Lead Coordinator, Atlanta, GA.


Job Overview: Responsible for responding to inbound sales-related inquiries and logging those inquiries into our leads tracking system as well as performing other administration-related activities for the marketing and sales department

Job Duties & Responsibilities (among others)
  • Answer inbound sales phone calls and direct calls to appropriate sales representative(s)
  • Log sales leads into the CRM system from a variety of sources, including phone calls, business reply cards, tradeshows, webinars, 3D dinners, CS Solutions events, and digital radiography events
  • Handle customer service-related issues and direct customers to appropriate departments and individuals
  • Assemble and ship literature packets for customer and prospects, tradeshows and sales representatives
  • Perform administrative functions for the marketing department, as required
Job Qualifications/Requirements (among others)
  • Prefer Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or related field, and previous Marketing/Sales experience
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • High School Graduate or GED
For more details about this job and to apply for it, click on this link.



Job Opening for Account Executive, Omaha, NE, at Carestream


A job opening for Account Executive, Omaha, NE, is available at Carestream, a worldwide provider of medical and dental imaging systems and IT solutions; X-ray imaging systems for non-destructive testing; and advanced materials for the precision films and electronics markets, and among bthe latest DiversityWorking.com's prestigious diversity company-members.


Job Overview: The successful candidate will be responsible for Dental Sales with a focus on Digital Imaging Equipment and Practice Management Solutions Sales for all specialties in the Dental Marketplace.

Job Qualifications/Requirements (among others)
  • Background in healthcare equipment/solutions (preferably dental) sales;
  • Understanding of Dental Practice workflow;
  • Disciplined in forecast, funnel and time management.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • BS/BA Degree or equivalent related work experience (Dental technology a plus)
    • 5+ years of experience in direct sales in the dental/medical equipment/software industry
    • Documented success delivering to and exceeding assigned quotas
    • Experience with short sales cycles (30-60 days) and selling directly to the business owner/decision maker
    • Ability to sell across a portfolio to a customer and understand all aspects of Carestream Dental’s solutions/products
Company Benefits
  • Base salary plus uncapped commission with accelerators for overachievement!
For more details about this job and to apply for it, click on this link.



DiversityWorking.com Announces Carestream Health Its New Diversity Company Member


DiversityWorking.com, a career opportunity resource and job search engine for the cultural diversity marketplace, is pleased to announce the inclusion of Carestream Health to its prestigious roster of diversity company-members.

Carestream Health is a global market leader in Medical Imaging and Healthcare IT; Dental Imaging and Practice Management Solutions; Non-Destructive Testing, and Advanced Materials & Contract Manufacturing. It has a global team of more than 7,000 employees in more than 150 countries, and is focused on its commitment to exceed customer expectations through the company's excellent leadership headed by CEO, Kevin J. Hobert, and Chairman of the Board, Robert M. Le Blanc. 

Carestream values its people, believing they are its most important asset, and it does its best to attract the best people, driven with passion, and create a vital, progressive environment that helps them grow to their full potential.

An equal opportunity employer dedicated to diversity and inclusion, Carestream has partnered with DiversityWorking.com, whose mission is to help companies promote their jobs, build their brand and send targeted and qualified diversity candidates directly to the best jobs possible. Products and services include a resume database, job search engine, and targeted corporate diversity branding opportunities.

To find out more about Carestream and its job opportunities, please click here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Leadership: Discerning the Real vs. Fake


Do not judge a book by its cover, the saying goes, and never has this oft-quoted line been more apt than at this crucial moment in the history of the US.

Today, the American people faces a political spectacle never before seen in this great land.

Today, America is also awashed with reality shows, and interestingly, the Republican presumptive nominee for presidential candidate is a former reality star himself.

Reality shows became popular in the 1990s, and they look bound to stay. They have become so much integrated into pop culture that we now speak of reality television.

Reality TV, according to Wikipedia, is a genre of television programming that documents supposedly unscripted real-life situations, and often features an otherwise unknown cast of individuals who are typically not professional actors, although in some shows celebrities may participate. It differs from documentary television in that the focus tends to be on drama, personal conflict, and entertainment rather than educating viewers.

Talking Points:

On the trending of reality shows, what does this reveal about people in general, and specifically about the American people? Could the success of reality shows reflect a need in our psyche to escape life's harsher realities?

Can watching too much reality TV create negative impacts on people especially the young? When it comes to making important life decisions, such as who to vote for, how can a people so conditioned to believing what is fake is real, and what is real is bad, be able to make a wise choice?

An Examiner article in 2012 looked into this and noted how most reality shows, at that time, contained violence, and how violence on reality tv could desensitize people, the American people.

Even today, one notes the biggest star in most reality shows is – Violence.

But not only violence in reality shows is a cause for concern. Just last month, in April, a blog article came out wherein the blogger decried how many shows are straight out LYING!

Fake vs. real. Which is which?

Even before the advent of reality television, TV audiences were already used to seeing singers lyp-syncing the songs they were supposed to be singing live. People watching were being conditioned that the entertainment they were watching was real, not fake.

TV/film audiences usually respond to their entertainment idols in this way – like how we all are so suckered into feeling what we want vs hearing what they are really telling us.

Perceived reality vs. the real. What you see is what you get?

On the lighter side, Christian reality tv shows have also began to trend in recent years, and these shows aim to highlight positive values and the breaking of stereotypes, especially of women. But this is not what this article is about.

We talk of how the American people in this crucial election period can discern the real vs. the fake in looking for a new president to govern this great nation to loftier heights amid a world beset with threats of global terrorism, refugee crisis, conflicts in different regions and climate change.

This moment is critical for us as a nation to be able to distinguish REAL LEADERSHIP from among the presidential contenders because our future and that of our children and of generations to come lies in whoever is elected to takeover President Obama, and this is Our Reality we cannot escape from.

Seeing the Real Through the Fake: Authentic Leadership

Among the presidential candidates, Donald Trump presents himself, and is perceived by his supporters/followers, to be the strong leader America needs today.

A recent article by The Washington Post descibes Trump:
Donald Trump is many things. He’s a business mogul, a real estate magnate, a go-to punch line for jokes about bad hair. But before he got into politics (and even before his adventures in skepticism about President Obama’s birth certificate), many Americans knew him primarily as the host/judge/boss of NBC’s “The Apprentice.”[...] He was a quintessential reality star — and a senior Trump campaign adviser, Paul Manafort, said this past week that the mogul is still exactly that: “This is the ultimate reality show. It’s the presidency of the United States.”

Is Trump indeed the strong leader he projects himself to be? An authentic leader, or is it only his public persona, the image he has conjured to win his campaign?

Years back, no one ever imagined Trump would take the limelight in the national political stage; the kind of thing that “The Simpsons” predicted years ago as a joke and that no one imagined would actually happen, but now it is the reality.

And the big challenge for America today is being able to discern: is Trump for real?
When people say he is a great reality star, or that he is a great leader, whose reality is it?

In a news article, it is reported that Trump's daughter Ivanka praised her father for elevating American politics with his honesty and authenticity.

Hyperreality

There is a phenomenon called hyperreality: an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies.

The dangers of hyperreality in our present time? Confusing celebrity worship with hero worship which Daniel J. Boorstin warned us against; the term is synonymous to “"reality by proxy" - an individual takes on someone else's version of reality and claims it as his or her own. 

Thus, it can be assumed that Ivanka, having grown in the shadow of her father's celebrity status and reality tv persona, could have created a larger than life image of Trump for herself to believe in, and projects this onto Trumps supporters.

Trump's adoring fans could likewise be seeing in him a reality that is not real. Hyperreality.

So even with his brashness, lack of political correctness, and incendiary remarks that his critics hate him for, his supporters see in him the makings of a future American president. That's why he's winning the race, so far.

It is like his faithful followers see him as a great old book when he's really not, or that they truly believe he's singing, when the reality is he's just lip-syncing one of the great rock band Whitesnake's popular songs.

But many times too, diehard fans know that what they see is not what they're really getting, yet they seem hooked, like most fanatics. They see a larger than life persona they can relate to, feel comfortable with, and who are often reflective of what they are not, but would like/hope to be.

What are the implications of such behavior? What factors drive the mass following of a public figure almost devoid of critical thinking?

At least, there are three factors that can help explain why masses craving for a leader seem to override logic or the ability to see between “lip-syncing” and “real singing,” and this goes true as well for citizens who so much want to believe someone is Genuine, even when they know he/she is just an Illusion.

Emotions, Hero Worship and Charisma

Emotions

Here is an excerpt from an article explaining how emotions, rather than reason or logic, play a great part in people's chooosing someone to vote for:
In recent years, an increasing amount of evidence has been produced that suggests that our political behavior is governed mainly by emotion, with fairly little of it governed by rationality.[...]American political scientists Peter Hatemi and Rose McDermott edited an anthology of articles in 2011 that reviewed numerous research studies conducted during the previous decade on the connection between genetics and political orientation. Although no one among us is a Likudnik or a leftist from birth, certain combinations of gene types can trigger behavioral tendencies, which in combination with social factors can help predict an individual’s political orientation.

Hero Worship

The special sentimentality of the public toward a popular hero includes a certain endearment, a tremendous loyalty, a reluctance to admit critical reflection, and a faith and veneration which verge upon superstition. Once a public figure acquires the status of a popular hereo, he is to be specially reckoned with as a social force. If an entertainer, he bcomes “box office.” If a political leader, he acquires generic appeal: he draws crowds, fills statdiums, makes money, gets votes, and gathers his following from all walks of life. His name and image act as an inspiration to organize large masses of people. (Hero Worship in America, Orrin E. Klapp, published in American Sociological Review) – See this:

Charisma

A dictionary definition of the term charisma is a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.

Even with these limited excerpts, one can understand more or less why there are public figures, like Donald Trump, who can hold sway over large groups of people, whether they deserve such adulation or not.

Blast from the Past

Some figures from history can serve as examples of this kind of fanatic adoration, fake leaders who made their way to national/international prominence and brought about untold sufferings to their people/country. One such example is Joseph Stalin, USSR's dictator, from 1929 to 1953.

To be clear, this article's definition of a fake leader is one who can gather a mass following through sheer charisma, and/or fear, as opposed to an authentic leader, one whose intention to lead derives from a desire to serve others, and create positive changes.

Joseph Stalin

Here's an excerpt from, “How Stalin Fooled the World and Why It Matters Today,” by Daniel Greenfield:
History concerns itself with dry facts, but has less to say about human minds, and so it is difficult to know whether FDR and Churchill were fooled or whether they chose to be fooled. When FDR and Churchill praised Stalin’s integrity and sincerity, had they been deceived by the world’s greatest actor or did they allow themselves to be deceived so that the terrible compromises they made seemed more palatable?
This question, like so many of the others in Stalin’s Curse, remains applicable today. While Stalin is dead, there are many lesser Stalins like Morsi, small vicious men with an unlimited capacity for bloodshed and an even more unlimited ability to fool Western leaders into believing in their sincerity and goodness. - Read more here:

Another article, Joseph Stalin: National hero or cold-blooded murderer?” depicts him to be a cold murderer more than a national hero. Stalin promotes an image of himself as a great benevolent leader and hero of the Soviet Union. Yet he is increasingly paranoid and purges the Communist party and Army of anyone who might oppose him. 

OTHER HISTORICAL FIGURES
Other past leaders in Stalin's league include Hitler (1878-1945), Lenin (1870-1924), Pol Pot (1928-1998), a leader of Red Khmers in Cambodia; Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), fascist dictator of Italy; and Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the father of communist China.

These are extreme examples of fake leaders, who ruled with a sheer force of their charsima, intimidation and fear. These historical figures are examples of evil leaders. The world knows what happened to their respective nations under their helm.

Other kinds of fake leaders use manipulation, brainwashing, deception, and other negative, diminishing ways. Read this article that differentiates the fake from real leaders.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

Indeed, voting wisely is paramount, for a country's future and of its generations to come lies in the leaders the people elect, especially in the one who will hold the reins. Thus, a nation cannot run the risk of consigning their future to a despotic, or manipulative character in the making.

When we don’t care about what our government is doing, we are also saying to the next generation that we are not interested in the possible burdens that we are passing on to them.”
― Rob Parker

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …” – Thomas Jefferson 

The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.” – Milton Friedman

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and authority...” – Lord Acton (1887)

The present crop of presidential aspirants, including those who bowed out of the race, perhaps may have used and manipulated their respective groups of voters, as their critics say: Hillary's pandering to women and people of color, Trump's playing up the anger of conservatives, Sanders' backroom deals, deceptive ads and political manipulation Ted Cruz's using his Hispanic roots to connect with Hispanic/LatinAmericans.

Voter manipulation is often, and will always be, part of many a political candidate's campaign strategy.

But this is democracy in action. There is diversity of political views and persuasions, and a diversity of political personalities. It is up to its citizenry to separate the grain from the chaff, to discern the authentic leaders from the fake, in choosing who to hand over their future and that of the country.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Housing Choice Voucher Program Expansion Plan, Good for Diversity?


The Obama administration is reportedly planning to expand the US HUD (Housing and Urban Development) housing program in an effort to “force suburbs to be less white and less wealthy.”

The plan involves reallocating funds for Section 8 in order to help urban poor afford higher rents in pricey areas, such as Westchester County, while assigning them government real estate agents called “mobility counselors” to secure housing in the exurbs, the report said.

First, what is the HUD housing program using vouchers all about?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, one of Section 8 housing programs, provides rental assistance payments on behalf of low income individuals and families, including the elderly and persons with disabilities.

According to the Housing and Urban Development:
since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.
- See more facts on the HUD official website.

With a Section 8 housing choice voucher, an eligible tenant (individual or family) – determined by the local Public Housing Agency - cannot be turned down supposedly by a landlord, and the tenant has to abide by the conditions set in the agreement, such as keeping the rental unit in good condition, and most important is paying the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. The landlord, the tenant and the PHA all have their respective obligations and responsbilities.

Moreover, a housing voucher may be used not only for renting a family home, but can be used for purchasing a home. Up to 20 percent of voucher funds can be used for subsidies — called “project-based” vouchers — that are tied to a particular property rather than a particular family and thus can help pay for the construction or rehabilitation of housing for low-income families. Also, vouchers are sometimes used to help with mortgage payments, enabling low-income families to purchase homes.

Landlords whose properties are tied with Section 8 are assured of getting fully paid for their rent each month. 
 
However, not all landlords are in favor of this housing program. Some of their reasons include:
- government regulation, which includes safety inspection and fixing/repair of their properties before the tenant moves in, slows down the process of getting in a tenant;
- the whole bureaucratic process can be costly, too, as the inspection criteria is rather stringent – landlords have to fix every item on the list of the inspection team;
- getting their first check from the PHA (Public Housing Agency) can take time;
- running the risk of tenants not able to maintain their properties well, and getting tenants that have criminal records (if the landlords/PHA have not done the background check well enough).

See more details on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program here.

Now back to the Obama administration's plan to expand the voucher program, that will include wealthier neighborhoods. Will this plan be ultimately for the good or the bad of the community, and diversity?

The Downside of the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Twice the program failed, as reported by the above New York Post article: once during former president Clinton's administration, and recently in Dallas.
The problem with this program? During Clinton's term,
- those with vouchers and have moved to affluent areas did not get better jobs, and stayed on welfare;
- more of them went on food stams;
- worse, crimes followed the people with vouchers in the safer neighborhoods, and this brought down the quality of life in the areas.

The same article noted what has happened to Dallas: Now Dallas has one of the highest murder rates in the nation, and recently had to call in state troopers to help police control it. […] Three suburbs that have seen the most Section 8 transfers — Frisco, Plano and McKinney — have suffered unprecedented spikes in rapes, assaults and break-ins, including home invasions.

Another significant result of this housing choice voucher program is it has not truly alleviated poor voucher-holders from poverty, and it has even become an instrument of desegregation. As this news reported: The failings of Section 8 go far beyond flaws in how the program was designed to how the the states have implemented it. People can argue all they want about the merits of subsidized housing, but given that Section 8 exists, it would seem advantageous for states and municipalities to take advantage of federal funds to help families find better housing. But many states seem especially determined to keep voucher-holders in areas of concentrated poverty.

But even with these disastrous results - links to drugs and crime and other problems - Housing Secretary Julian Castro, who is rumored to be Hillary Clinton's running mate, plans to replicate the program nationwide.

We want to use our housing-choice vouchers to ensure that we don’t have a concentration of poverty and the aggregation of racial minorities in one part of town, the poor part of town,” Castro said of the plan, as reported in this article by Warner Todd Huston.

The intention of the program may be noble indeed, but the desired result is not being realized. The HUD scheme is part of Obama's plan to diversify wealthy neighborhoods, and help lower income individuals/families gain access to better situated homes; yet it seems to generate more discrimination and highlight segregation.

Rental ads and signs that say “No Section 8” put up by landlords show this disturbing tendency. Thus, in Minneapolis, a proposal to bar such discriminating action of landlords is in the offing. A proposal by two City Council members would make Minneapolis the first city in the metro area to say landlords cannot turn away tenants solely for paying rent with government housing vouchers, the Star Tribune reported.

What It Means for Diversity

If you happen to be middle class, regardless of your skin color and your race, it is but natural to select a home suited to your status, and which is in a safe, nice neighborhood.

The wealthier you are, the more you can afford to buy a house, not only for the above-mentioned reasons, but most likely for investment purposes.

Some white, middle class people though may still hesitate buying into a mixed-income neighborhood, although it is not their intention to be racist or discriminating. They may perhpas only be wary of the rising incidence in crimes and concerned with the market value of the properties in such areas.

If you happen to be black from the lower economic strata, and have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, you'll likely choose to move into a safe, better and nice neighborhood, for you and your family.

Ideally, the HUD housing programs aims to benefit everyone. Last year, President Obama announced a new housing rule that aims to promote fair housing.
The Fair Housing Act requires HUD and its program recipients to promote fair housing and equal opportunity to ensure that all people have the right to fair housing regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. The new rule aims to provide program participants with clear guidelines and data...

But it seems, somewhere, the HUD housing programs, in particular, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, is not working out well as envisioned. Discrimination and segregation still remain.

According to this report, in many places, housing vouchers are only moderately useful in combating racial and economic segregation, both because landlords are able (legally or illegally) to discriminate against voucher holders. The writer argues taking away housing subsidies from people rich enough to not need them, and expanding housing assistance to the poor and middle class people.

Could there be a better alternative to the recent HUD plan to expand the housing voucher program – will it really be beneficial for poor black individuals/families to move into more affluent residential communities? Will moving them to richer neighborhoods that have better access to jobs, transportation, services and educational opportunities improve their lives?
How can crimes be prevented in housing communities where the poor with housing vouchers have moved in?

The answers are not easy to find, for some see political motivations behind, and some see the more pragmatic social implications. Social scientists say people tend to live where they are most comfortable, so it s natural to live among people they are familiar with, or are similar to them.

Would it much better to bring substantial development right to the places where the urban poor are? Perhaps, if poor people, of any race or color, the disabled, and unemployed are given access to more diversity job opportunities, they would not have to move and adjust to wealthier neighbors, and they would not feel out of place.

With ample equal employment opportunities that give better pay, the poor today will eventually be able to save enough to rent or purchase a home of their choice without the need for housing vouchers.

This is not to discount the good intentions of the government, but as it is, housing vouchers seem to stigmatize poor voucher holders. What more, with the long waiting list, many eligible holders cannot immediately avail of the program.

Perhaps, the HUD should re-think its plan more carefully. As the NY Post said in its article, This is a big policy shift that will have broad implications, affecting everything from crime to property values. And it could even impact the presidential election, especially if Castro joins Hillary on the Democratic ticket.