Nearly 4.7 households relying on federal housing assistance will soon be hit hard due to a decision made by the Trump administration.
According to the Washington Post, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson is set to propose requirements for federal housing subsidies that will triple the rent of some low-income households and require them to work in order to receive the benefits.
As the Post notes these major changes are part of the Trump administration’s larger efforts to limit “access to the safety net and reduce the levels of assistance for those who do qualify." Overhauls are being seen in other subsidy areas including food stamps and Medicaid.
"There is one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson told reporters. “The current system isn't working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.”
The new initiative, which was unveiled Wednesday, will raise the rent for subsidized housing tenants to 35 percent of gross income, an increase from the current standard of 30 percent of adjusted income. The change puts the rent cap for the lowest-income families at $150 a month — three times higher than the current $50 ceiling. This major change would affect more than 700,000 households.
Elderly and disabled tenants would be exempt from the increase, the Huffington Post reports.
The HUD secretary also wants tighter work requirements for people living in subsidized housing. He told reporters that the current system encourages people to not work.
“Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households,” Carson said. “It's clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.”
Advocates are pushing back, saying that the new policy will actually push people towards homelessness rather than fix the problems.
“We’re talking about keeping a roof over people who can’t afford the market,” Jack Cooper, executive director of the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, told The Associated Press. “They’re devastating folks that are already in dire straits.”