In an essay from 1976 the Italian economist Carlo Cipolla outlined some fundamental laws of stupidity. He avers that we underestimate the number of stupid people out there; we underestimate the destructive power of stupidity; stupid people are the most dangerous of the four types of person. Most pertinent to this case, he defines a stupid person as one who causes losses to others when the fool doesn’t benefit himself or indeed even loses out.

The decision makers behind the Housing Opportunity Through Housing Act (HOTMA) decreed that as of January 1, 2024 no new residents of Public Housing or owners of the Section 8 Housing Voucher can apply the Earned Income Disregard (EID).

EID, in this case, was the valuable work incentive that allowed a newly employed resident of HUD housing to keep their rent at the same rate for the first 12 months of employment, experience a modest increase in the second year, and only have to pay the full rate from the third year of employment.

No more. Those who were on that track before the first of the year will be allowed to see it out, but the calculation shows that nobody will have EID once we enter 2026.

There’s no particular reason for doing so, apart from an evident lack of intelligence and consideration. The proponents seem to think that it makes life easier for those who have to calculate rent rates. The record of the determination on the implementation of the section of the act that eliminated EID even concedes that “ Many commenters, however, opposed ending the benefit. These commenters stated that removing the policy would create a disincentive to work for people who already face significant economic and affordable housing barriers. Commenters stated that EID affords recipients the ability and time to adequately transition and to adjust to higher cost burdens. Commenters stated that the loss of the EID will threaten participants’ housing stability, thereby threatening their health. 133 Commenters also stated that if HUD ends EID for the HOPWA program… abrupt removal of the benefit could destabilize tenants, causing them to possibly lose their homes.”

That there was opposition shows that perhaps things may change in the future, but for now, it’s a poor look out and a sorry case of a stupid act and the harm it will inevitably cause.