HUD’s Carson talks tough on cuts to affordable housing for low-income Americans

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has proposed a massive overhaul to the rental-housing system in America. The seemingly ambitious effort proposes to increase the share of rent paid by low-income households prior to them receiving any assistance. Under this proposal, public housing authorities will also impose certain work requirements.

The minimum rent increase is expected to affect about 15 percent or 712,000 of the 4.7 million households that receive federal housing subsidies, HUD officials said.

“Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households,” Carson said on a media conference call. “It’s clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.”

According to HUD, only 15 out of 3,100 housing authorities across the country require some sort of work or job training in return for benefits. Housing advocates believe this move is likely to impact the neediest and most vulnerable groups including single mothers with kids.

The restrictionist move by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans is seen as a blow to America’s safety net, as it reduces the levels of assistance for households that qualify. It is consistent with the administration’s efforts to reduce federal support for such policies.

The effort has already been dubbed as “Welfare Reform 2.0’’ after former President Bill Clinton undertook an overhaul of the welfare system in 1996 in a similar manner.

Earlier this month, Trump signed an executive order to direct federal agencies to expand work requirements for low-income Americans that receive Medicaid, public housing benefits and food stamps. The diverse agencies involved are required to issue recommendations to the White House within 90 days.

However, the chances of success of this particular proposal are slim. Lawmakers have until now rejected the current administration’s efforts to cut HUD funding.

The chances of Congress taking up and passing this controversial proposal six months prior to the midterm elections are quite slim.


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