In the face of the growing affordability crisis, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and the Trump administration are holding course on their proposed reduction of housing assistance.
According to the New York Times, local housing authorities are feeling the squeeze and as many as three out of four eligible applicants for housing vouchers are being turned away.
“To be brutally honest, I think that we aren’t really getting any help right now out of Washington, and the situation has gotten really bad over the last two years,” Chad Williams, executive director of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority told NYT.
“I think Carson’s ideas, that public housing shouldn’t be multigenerational, are noble, but right now these programs are a stable, Band-Aid fix, and we really need them,” Williams said.
Despite a strong economy, which has been bolstering rent growth, wage growth has remained stagnant, meaning that more and more renters are becoming rent burdened with less and less help available.
Under Carson’s plan, maximum rents paid by the poorest households in public housing would triple from $50 to $150.
Last year, the former presidential candidate said he did not want to provide 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,’” because he feels doing so perpetuates poverty.
“I continue to advocate for fiscal responsibility as well as compassion,” Carson told a House committee in June.
HUD is slated to sustain an $8.8 billion budget cut if the White House has its way. This cut represents a major shift in federal housing policy, ending the requirement that low-income tenants spend no more than 30% of their net income on rent.
Carson’s plan would increase that number to 35% of gross income, excluding voucher recipient at the request of local housing authorities.
“This isn’t about dependence,” Diane Yentel, president of the nonprofit National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group that has released several recent reports documenting the affordability crunch, told NYT. “Today’s housing crisis is squarely rooted in the widening gap between incomes and housing costs.”