HUD “Sitting on Sidelines” Doing Little to Assist Struggling American Families as Affordable Housing Crisis Grows
On July 27, 2018, The New York Times reported that “As Affordable Housing Crisis Grows, HUD Sits on the Sidelines.” Millions of low-income Americans are currently paying 70 percent or more of their income to afford housing. Meanwhile, rent prices continue to rise and the rate of construction for affordable housing decreases.
Even more so, Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), wants to triple rents for approximately 712,000 of the US’s poorest tenants, those already receiving federal housing aid. He also wants to change the requirements of federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide, and effectively move 4.5 million households, to make room for new tenants.
Although Carson claims to see the shortage of affordable housing as “regrettable,” he reportedly sees this as a local issue, not the responsibility of the federal government.
Just last year, Carson stated he did not want to give recipients of federal aid “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say, ‘I’ll just stay here; they will take care of me.’” Instead, he wants to break this cycle of dependency, without offering any assistance to help them break this cycle.
Both Republicans and Democrats struggled to save the budget for HUD when a tax credit that accounts for 9 out of 10 affordable homes was threatened to be taken out of the budget. Meanwhile, Carson sat on the sidelines, and did not help with this battle.
Many local officials have accepted that they will not be receiving enough federal aid. Chad Williams, executive director of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority, emphasizes the need for these programs.
He explains, “I think Carson’s ideas, that public housing shouldn’t be multi-generational, are noble. But right now these programs are a stable, Band-Aid fix, and we really need them.”
The Section 8 housing voucher program enables 2.1 million low-income families to rent affordable housing they otherwise could not afford. Secretary Carson’s proposal looks to raise rents to 35 percent of gross income for all tenants.
Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, highlights the core issue of the housing crisis.
Yentel claims, “This isn’t about dependence. Today’s housing crisis is squarely rooted in the widening gap between incomes and housing costs.”
While rents have risen, wages have remained flat. This affordable housing crisis hits the elderly, minorities, and low-income wage earners the hardest.