Dr. Ben Carson defended the administration’s proposed cuts to HUD’s budget. Dr. Carson stressed that he was not concerned with “the amount of money, but the results.” He expressed his eagerness to make reforms based on data and to use private-public partnerships to address the affordable housing crisis in America.
Members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns about the country’s lack of affordable housing. During her opening statement, Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) cited the National Low Income Housing Coalition‘s (NLIHC’s) Out of Reach data that demonstrates the extent of the affordable housing crisis in the country.
Many Democrats questioned HUD’s capability to adequately serve low income people in need of affordable housing with the proposed cuts and elimination of programs like the national Housing Trust Fund, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).
They also expressed concerns about the Trump administration’s proposal to raise rents on some of the poorest people living in federally assisted housing. They noted that hardship exemptions would be an inadequate solution since such exemptions have historically failed to help those who are qualified for them.
Dr. Ben Carson repeatedly stated that the HUD budget is based on evidence and that he wants to ensure that HUD’s efforts lead people out of poverty. He referenced private-public partnerships like the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) as keys to increasing the availability of affordable homes.
Democrats pointed out, however, that the president’s budget request eliminates programs like the HOME Investment Partnerships program and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program that encourage public-private partnerships.
Dr. Carson expressed his willingness to look more closely at the issues raised and to consider reforms to make HUD more efficient but gave few specifics on the agency’s agenda.
Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) made a passionate plea for federal aid for Puerto Rico, referring to a coalition letter-led by NLIHC and signed by more than 500 organizations including Monarch Housing – urging Congress and the administration to take immediate action to assist the island.
Dr. Carson offered no details on steps HUD is taking but maintained that hurricane recovery was and will continue to be a priority. He noted that he would travel to Puerto Rico soon.