HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, is proposing a controversial plan to triple rent across the board for low-income Americans. The proposed amounts would only affect low-income Americans living in federally subsidized housing, most of whom are single parents, disabled, or between jobs. Currently, subsidized housing charges 30 percent of an individual or family’s income; under Carson’s new rules, those same individuals would pay between $50 and $150 per month, when they pay about a third of that now, and some actually receive payments to offset the cost of utilities.
• Currently, 4.7 million households live in federally subsidized housing. Of those residents, advocates believe the bottom 15 percent would suffer most. Many are single mothers with no income at all and/or those receiving welfare payments, while others are low-income seniors and healthcare patients who are unable to work.
• The other 85 percent of all recipients wouldn’t be affected as much because they are already paying rates close to this amount. This includes working families in subsidized housing and seniors on pensions.
• Advocates gave the example of a single mother receiving $2,400 a year – about $200 a month – in benefits. Such an individual would be required to pay $150 to rent, leaving her $50 to feed, clothe, and care for her children, an impossibility in today’s day and age. However, these advocates fail to note that single mothers in such conditions also qualify for just about every other assistance program, based on their income. Such programs include assistance with food, utilities, and medical expenses, to name a few.
• But Carson’s proposal does not support this Draconian outlook; it specifically makes exceptions for hardship, seniors over the age of 65, and individuals with disabilities. If the plan moves forward, it will offer exemptions for up to six years after initiation.
• Carson’s main goal was to make it easier for Housing to request work requirements before providing access to shelter. Currently, a significant number of people in the system either don’t or can’t work and thus, contribute only in benefits and little else.