Comments at fundraiser indicate HUD might not be around
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee for President, spoke at a fundraiser in Palm Beach, Fla., Sunday night about his plans if elected. He was unaware that his comments would be picked up by reporters. He spoke about the need to reduce the size of government and identified HUD as an agency he would abolish.
“Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, might not be around later. But I’m not going to go through these one by one.”
Abolishing HUD need not mean abolishing every program within HUD. We would still need an Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity; that could go to the Department of Justice. Housing support programs that are heavy on service delivery should go to HHS.
But housing programs that are basically just income support for the poor, particularly Section 8, should be abolished in favor of an expanded EITC. And housing subsidy programs for people with higher incomes should be abolished without substitution.
With a plan in place the response in defense of HUD has been slow.
HUD Undersecretary Ron Sims stated:
“HUD is consequential. Mitt Romney’s remarks are about an old HUD that is long gone. The pattern of development nowadays is metropolitan growth. HUD has led efforts to recognize and coordinate with experts who are both liberal and conservative.”
With the number of families unable to afford housing, the need for an effective effort to insure that everyone has housing they can afford is critical. For example, in order to afford a rental apartment in New Jersey, a family must earn an hourly wage of $25.04 according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently released Out of Reach Report 2012.
We need an open and honest debate that includes an honest appraisal of the current crisis and the role that HUD has and can play in making affordable and supportive housing available to everyone. It is our opinion that a debate about HUD or any federal agency is a significant discussion that should not be held at a fundraiser in Palm Beach.