Welcome to the Cruel World

Welfare reform has dramatically changed public housing in Miami-Dade County. Personal responsibility is the new refrain, and zero tolerance is the law.

In 1998 she paid $70 for seven new window shades for her upstairs bedrooms. A year later all but one needed to be replaced because they had been ripped by the window locks. In mid-December Home Depot had similar shades on sale for $1.99 each. "If they get torn up again, I got to put a sheet up," Bell remarks. "Can't afford new blinds."

Using a sheet instead of a window shade, of course, would be a violation of Miami-Dade Housing Agency rules.

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