Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson says he’s raising rents to put poor Americans to work, but according to a new study reported in The Washington Post, the majority of people who receive HUD rent subsidies are either elderly, disabled or already at work.
Carson announced in April a new plan that would lead to large increases in rents paid by most low-income Americans. According to The Post, this would cause the rents of the poorest Americans to at least triple.
If Congress approves Carson’s plan, then the monthly minimum rent charged by public-housing facilities would increase from $50 to $150. It would also increase rents paid by subsidized housing tenants from 30 percent of adjusted income to 35 percent of gross income, a much larger number.
Carson has previously defended his plan to raise rents saying that increasing minimum rents from $50 to $150 will give people ”more skin in the game.” He has also denied that (as critics have charged) his proposal will lead to “a war on the poor.” Instead, he has said that his agency is really declaring “a war on poor management.”
In speaking about his plan, Carson has been quoted as saying that his goal is to “incentivize public housing recipients to reach their God-given potential.”
In addition, in a recent interview with Fox News, Carson said he believes his plan will be positive because it will “give poor people a way out of poverty.”
A strong critic of Carson’s plan, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio tweeted:
“Secretary Carson claims that raising rent for struggling Americans will incentivize them to succeed. In reality, this will only make it harder. It is cruel and wrong.”
Secretary Carson claims that raising rent for struggling Americans will incentivize them to succeed.
In reality, this will only make it harder. It is cruel and wrong.https://t.co/3EfQF6uRKH
— Sherrod Brown (@SherrodBrown) July 6, 2018
The Washington D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has now come out with a new study showing that more than half of D.C. residents who receive federal rent subsidies are elderly or disabled or both. This means that after HUD and Carson cause their rents to go up, they still will be physically unable to work.
Fiscal Policy Institute Director Carla Zippel said she believes that Carson’s plan will not achieve its stated goals and therefore will not help the people affected rise out of poverty.
According to Zippel:
“If you’re elderly or disabled you may have many barriers to finding work and might not in many cases be physically or mentally capable of working. Elderly and disabled people are probably not the kind of folks who we want to be pushing into the labor market because they can’t work.”
Carson’s plan is another Trump administration proposal to hurt poor people who are vulnerable and already living at a subsistence level. As Senator Brown points out, “it is cruel and wrong.” Although this is typical for a Trump proposal, it should not be passed by Congress. Poor Americans should receive more help with housing costs rather than less.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.