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Raise High the Rent Minimum, Bureaucrats

Jeff Campbell

Posted on August 5, 2018 07:14

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Does the idea of getting the poor to become more self-sufficient by forcing them to pay more to live stand up to analysis or common sense?

Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has an idea to make the poor more self-sufficient. Triple the rents they pay for federally subsidized housing and the poor will go get jobs or get better paying jobs. It sounds simple, and in theory, people should work for a living when they are able to. The problem always starts when the federal government comes in with one size fits all plans to help those in need. In this case, housing for the poor.

Currently there are almost 5 million families that receive some form of housing benefits from HUD to help them keep a roof over their heads. The new plans would raise the rent for subsidized housing from 30% of gross income to 35% of gross income and triple the rent ceiling for the poorest recipients of subsidies to $150 per month, up from $50 per month. The proposed changes would also free up public housing authorities to impose work requirements for housing subsidies. The increases would affect more than half of those receiving benefits or millions of families.

Based on reporting by The Washington Post, Secretary Carson says that the changes are needed as the current system is not only unsustainable from a cost standpoint but are also failing to help many families in need. He says that only 1 in 4 families that would qualify for aid receive it, and the rest are placed on long waiting lists for years, many never receiving aid. The changes would help raise funding and in theory, could nudge a portion of the families into working to raise their incomes through better jobs and they may be able to move on from federal assistance. The bottom line, he says, is that they are working to create a system that incentivizes work and helps families get off government assistance. Housing advocates, however, strongly disagree.

According to analysis prepared by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan institute focusing on federal and state policies to help reduce poverty, the proposed changes by HUD could put almost 1 million children at risk for homelessness. Almost 90% of those that would be affected by the new HUD proposed rent changes are families with children, according to the CBPP study. It’s easy to say that these adults need to find employment or find better employment, but there is no effective assistance in this part of the equation. Further, many in this poorest category that are adversely affected have physical and/or mental disabilities that limit what, if any, work they can perform.  

Why can’t we have HUD officials and the housing advocates sit down and come up with solutions that everyone can agree to at least try together? To borrow a sentiment from George Bailey, is it too much to ask for the poorest among us to be able to work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? I think not.

Jeff Campbell

Posted on August 5, 2018 07:14

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