Earlier today, Ben Carson, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), put forward a plan that could significantly change the amounts paid by Americans who live in public housing. The proposal, discussed at a congressional hearing and in a HUD statement, is an effort by the Trump Administration to overhaul how housing subsidies are calculated for the estimated 4.5 million families who rely on federal housing assistance.

Currently, residents on federal public assistance generally pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent — which is capped at $50 a month for the poorest families. Secretary Carson’s initiative sets the family monthly rent contribution at 35 percent of gross income, or 35 percent of their earnings working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage. If the bill passes, the cap for the poorest families would rise to about $150 a month. HUD estimates that about 700,000 families should expect to see their monthly rents increase to $150.

The administration stated its view that doing nothing is not an option as the current system is “confusing” and “convoluted” such that changes are necessary to help stop people from “working the system.” Secretary Carson hopes this plan will “encourage work and self-sufficiency” as the current rules “hold back the very people we’re supposed to be helping.” Now, HUD’s statement also noted that the proposed changes will not apply to individuals with disabilities or to the elderly.

Housing advocates have already signaled their opposition to this new legislation, calling it unnecessary and will have a negative impact on those who have the lowest incomes and are faced with a shortage of affordable housing.  While it is obviously too early to know how the initiative will be received in Congress, your humble Fair Housing Defense Blog editor will follow the issue and report back as appropriate.

Just A Thought.