This was in response to President Trump’s release, on April 10, 2018, of an executive order that directs federal agencies, including the U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to consider ways to cut critical benefits, like affordable housing, that help low income households meet their basic needs.
The executive order contains nine “Principles of Economic Mobility,” including imposing work requirements on recipients of government benefits programs. While the president frames the policy as a way to “promote economic mobility, strong social networks, and accountability to American taxpayers,” work requirements do not create the opportunities or decent paying jobs needed to lift people out of poverty.
Rather than promoting self-sufficiency, work requirements cut struggling families off from the housing stability and services that make it possible for them to find and maintain work. Increasing economic mobility should start with expanding, not slashing, the housing assistance low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other vulnerable people need.
Writes Yentel, “Work requirements don’t work: they do not create the jobs with decent pay and opportunities needed to lift people out of poverty. Instead, imposing such requirements could cut struggling families off from the very housing stability and services that make it possible for them to find and maintain work.”
Access to an affordable rental home is essential for economic mobility, but far too many low-income families struggle to pay rent and make ends meet. When people have a stable, decent, and accessible home that they can afford, they are better able to find employment, achieve economic mobility, perform better in school, and maintain improved health.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes report finds a national shortage of more than 7 million rental homes for America’s 11 million extremely low-income households. There are just 35 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 lowest income families.
As a result, 71% of these families pay at least half of their incomes on rent, forcing them to make impossible choices between paying rent and buying groceries or medicine or investing in their futures through education or training. Because of chronic under-funding, three out of four families in need of housing benefits are turned away.
The Executive Order is essentially a statement of principles by the president. The proposed work requirements are non-binding and, in the case of housing programs, would require Congressional action to implement.