Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has proposed far-reaching changes that would significantly raise rents for low-income Americans living in subsidized housing.
According to The Washington Post, Carson’s proposals would triple rents paid by the poorest Americans, as well as impose work requirements in return for housing benefits. The move has sparked outrage among housing advocates, who dubbed the proposals as “cruel hypocrisy.”
“There’s one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson told reporters on Wednesday. “The current system isn’t working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.”
Currently, tenants in subsidized housing typically pay 30 percent of their adjusted income towards rent, not exceeding the public housing agency maximum rent of $50 per month. Carson’s proposal, however, would raise the family month rent contribution to 35 percent of their gross income, or 35 percent of their income working 15 hours at the federal minimum wage.
“The cap on rent for the poorest families would rise to about $150 a month — three times higher than the existing $50 ceiling,” The Post explains. “About 712,000 households would see their monthly rents rise to $150, officials said.”
Not only is Carson considering raising rent for poor Americans, but officials said he also wants to cut deductions that are considered when determining rent, including child-care costs and medical expenses. The HUD head claimed some tenants know how to buck the system to receive certain deductions, putting them at an unfair advantage over others.
“We really want to level the playing field and make it much more even for everyone,” Carson said.
News of the proposals comes on the heels of criticism the retired neurosurgeon received when he blew nearly $31,000 in taxpayer funds on a luxury dining set for his office.