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Trump's Sweeping Public Housing Changes

Donald Trump ran for President on a platform of shaking up the status quo[1], but as campaign rhetoric continues to evolve into actual policies, the reviews are mixed. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where Secretary Ben Carson's latest proposals are raising eyebrows and drawing the ire of fair housing advocates nationwide.

Tripling Rent Part Of Carson's Vision For HUD
In late April, Carson proposed numerous changes to the way the federal government subsidizes housing for low-income Americans. However, rather than making it easier to obtain publicly funded housing, Carson's proposed changes include tripling rent for the poorest households, while relaxing restrictions on housing authorities to impose work requirements on residents as a condition of their housing.

Under Carson's Proposal:

Rent would increase for tenants in subsidized housing from 30 percent of adjusted income to 35 percent of gross income.[2] This adjustment would impact about half of the 4.7 million families currently receiving housing benefits.

The most impoverished families receiving assistance would see their rate cap triple from the current $50 monthly ceiling to $150 per month, a move that would impact nearly 750,000 families.

Anyone over the age of 65, and all individuals with disabilities would be exempt from all work requirements and would not be required to pay the rental increases for six years from implementation. HUD estimates that group comprises more than half of the 4.7 million families receiving subsidies.

The proposal would also move to verify tenants' household income every three years instead of annually, which Carson said would encourage residents to work more without immediately facing a rent increase.

Secretary Carson argued that the proposed changes are necessary to modernize the system[3], which currently only serves 1-in-4 applicants, with the rest on a waiting list. By tweaking the equation that determines eligibility, Carson claims the playing field will be leveled for applicants. However, given that the stated goal is to make less people eligible for benefits, Carson's explanation doesn't seem plausible nor credible.

Political Math Reveals Rough Ride For Carson Plan
The underlying public policy is simple and undeniable. By reducing access to the social safety net for low-income Americans and sharply restricting benefits for those who do qualify, Carson is doing the bidding for President Trump and the Republican-led Congress. The Trump administration has made no effort to hide their preference for draconian cuts to what are commonly known as welfare benefits.

Congressional approval will be required to enact Secretary Carson's proposals into law, a task undeniably easier before the midterm elections in November. A confluence of political events such as the court-mandated Congressional redistricting in Pennsylvania and an abundant increase in women candidates nationwide could wipe out the substantial majority Trump has enjoyed in the House of Representatives.[4] Should Democrats regain control of the House, there is virtually no chance Carson's proposal could pass.