Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson defended his proposal to overhaul HUD programs for low-income housing subsidies that would triple rent for some recipients, saying his plan is “our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty.”
In an interview with Fox News, Carson said the program’s work requirements and rent increases will “incentivize people” to get on their feet.
While tenets receiving federal housing assistance are required to pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward housing, with a $50 per month cap for the poorest groups, Carson’s plan, proposed in the form of congressional legislation, would push for a 35 percent contribution with a new cap of $150 per month.
It would also require that the money be made by at least 15 hours of work at the federal minimum wage level.
“The system we currently use to calculate a family’s rental assistance is broken and holds back the very people we’re supposed to be helping,” Carson said in a statement. “HUD-assisted households are now required to surrender a long list of personal information, and any new income they earn is ‘taxed’ every year in the form of a rent increase. Today, we begin a necessary conversation about how we can provide meaningful, dignified assistance to those we serve without hurting them at the same time.”
The Washington Post notes that HUD is also considering gutting “deductions that could be considered when determining a tenant’s rent, eliminating deductions for medical and childcare costs.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) condemned the proposal as the “latest example of the Trump administration’s war on poor people,” calling it “immoral” and “ill-advised.”
“I would say it’s just the opposite,” Carson fired back, saying that his plan will be well received in general, if not by the “hysterical people who are saying, ‘These people hate you and they’re trying to balance the budget on your back and they don’t care.’ ”
The proposal, called the Making Affordable Housing Work Act, follows a push from the Trump administration in its 2019 budget to make adults “shoulder more of their housing costs and provide an incentive to increase their earnings,”
Carson claims the current housing welfare system is “broken” and that the department is “removing all those kinds of perverse disincentives” that keep people trapped in poverty.