Friday, April 27, 2018

Class War in Housing

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, delivered on the president's command to move people "out of poverty" by proposing to raise the rent on some of America's most vulnerable communities.

Carson released legislative text that would raise rent for tenants in government-subsidized housing to equal 35 percent of gross income (based on the assumption that they work 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage).  This amounts to an increase of 5 percentage points from the current policy, which established a cap on the rate of rent at 30 percent of adjusted income. This means that the cap on rent for America's poorest families would rise to $150 per month instead of $50 per month.

Officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development claimed this would only affect about half of the 4.7 million families currently receiving housing benefits. But not all policy experts agree with that estimate.

"More than 4 million households will see their rents rise," Will Fischer, Senior Policy Analyst at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, pointed out He also emphasized that the effect of Carson's new policy on poor families would be devastating.
"These proposals will raise rents for working poor families, the elderly and people with disabilities and force them to divert money from other basic needs like clothing or food or medicine," Fischer explained. "In some cases it's gonna push them to the brink and put them at risk of eviction or homelessness. The HUD says that these are reforms but they don't pursue any particular policy goal other than squeezing rent out of these families."
Fischer also cast doubt on the idea that Carson's underlying goal is to reform the system and help poor families.
"They say they want to encourage work but they're raising rent on working families. What this is really about is squeezing more money out of these people," Fischer said. "It is particularly inequitable because we just had a really big tax cut for the wealthy and large corporations that will add to the deficit, and now they're turning around and saying they have to raise rent on some of the poorest people in the country."

“The nation’s housing crisis has reached emergency levels. A person working a full time minimum wage job, can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment in any county in the U.S. More than half of all Americans spend over 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, and I’m one of them,” said Kendra Moore, a Section 8 tenant in Los Angeles.

“Today Ben Carson insulted us while telling the corporate investors in attendance that they should keep profiting off the housing crisis. Ben Carson’s job is to help solve the housing crisis for people, not profiteers...” said Patricia Norberg, a homeowner from Delaware and a grassroots leader with MHAction. “Corporate and private equity investors associated with MHI say ‘jump’ and Carson says ‘how high?’ We’ve had enough.”

“Carson is out of touch and patronizing. He thinks poverty is a state of mind. He needs to do his job and push for a massive reinvestment in community-owned and public housing. We need him to make a true commitment to alleviating the conditions of poverty and the dismantling of the racist structures embedded in our housing system,” said Trenise Bryant from the Miami Workers Center and Homes for All.

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