“It is ironic that a man who used taxpayer dollars to buy a $30,000 dining room table for the federal agency he leads wants to raise rent on poor people,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) asserted in a statement on February 25.
Richmond was reacting to a new proposal by HUD Secretary Ben Carson that would triple the rent of low-income Americans receiving federal housing assistance. A story by a local ABC station demonstrated that the poorest families in the Los Angeles projects in Tacoma currently pays $50 in rent a month. If Carson’s proposal were to pass Congress, that rent would rise to $150 a month.
“Secretary Carson’s immoral, ill-advised proposal is the latest example of the Trump Administration’s war on poor people… thankfully this proposal would require Congressional approval before it can become law, and the Congressional Black Caucus will work with our colleagues in Congress to oppose it and other related measures. The Congressional Black Caucus will also continue to stand up and speak out for the underprivileged and underrepresented,” Richmond added.
In an April 25th statement, Secretary Carson said that 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 maintains that his new proposal would be “simpler, more transparent and predictable.”
President Trump did not make changes in federal housing policy a particular priority during his campaign. So far, Carson has not offered too much detail about what his overall plans for the agency are. But anecdotal policy offered indicates a massive rollback on assistance to the poor. There are currently over 40 million people living below the poverty line in the United States.
“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,” Secretary Carson added.
Carson, 66, who spent his career as a surgeon, had no specific expertise in federal housing policy before staring the job as President Donald Trump’s HUD Secretary.
In addition to Carson latest proposal, the Trump Administration is proposing making changes to Medicaid and nutrition programs that would result in less assistance to the homeless population in the U.S, and provide less food assistance to children.