THUD Committee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) noted early in the hearing that the president’s budget “includes several proposals that were rejected as part of the FY 2018 deliberations, and I anticipate that many of those same program eliminations will once again be rejected.”
Other members of the committee, including Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), echoed that sentiment, noting the importance in his home state of programs like Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which the administration proposes eliminating.
Secretary Carson agreed with senators about the importance of HUD programs, but continually referred to the growing national debt as the reason for the cuts. The majority of the committee expressed disagreement with the secretary’s argument.
While Senator Collins expressed support for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which HUD proposes to use as an alternative to rehabbing public housing, she noted that the FY19 budget proposal does not provide sufficient funding even to keep the program functioning at its current level, let alone expand it.
On a separate matter, the secretary indicated he has openly proposed reforms to the Family Self-Sufficiency program passed in the House of Representatives in January.
Dr. Carson also assured senators that HUD is working as quickly as possible on disaster recovery in the areas impacted by the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires.
Instead of expanding housing benefits to every family in need, the Trump administration and members of Congress are proposing to cut housing benefits for millions of low income families.
Rent increases, arbitrary work requirements, de facto time limits and other burdens are being proposed.
Cutting housing benefits will not create jobs that pay decent wages or other opportunities needed to lift people out of poverty. Instead, such cuts would only make it harder for low income people to climb the economic ladder and live with dignity.
If lawmakers are serious about economic mobility, Congress and the Trump administration should start by expanding investments in affordable rental homes, implementing bipartisan legislation passed in 2016 to help incentivize earnings, and scaling up solutions that work, like HUD’s Family Self Sufficiency program.