Republicans gotta pay for the tax cut somehow. The proposal by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to at least triple the minimum rent that the poorest Americans pay for federally subsidized housing is part of the plan. This has to be approved by Congress, so maybe it won’t happen. We can hope so because, if enacted, it would put nearly 1 million children at risk of homelessness, according to an analysis of HUD data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Carson’s “Making Affordable Housing Work Act of 2018” would force the very poorest tenants receiving federal aid — those most likely on the edge of homelessness — to pay three times as much in rent (details below). It would also shrink the rent subsidies received by other low-income Americans, leaving them with less money for food, medical expenses, and education. And it would allow local public housing authorities to impose work requirements on people receiving housing assistance.
Under the current rules for federal rental assistance, non-elderly, non-disabled renters have to pay 30% of their income after deducting child care and medical expenses. The proposal would boost their rent to 35% of gross income, allowing no deductions. That could significantly increase how much families, particularly low-wage working parents with young children, pay in rent.
Carson’s proposal would also create a new, minimum rent of $50 for elderly and disabled renters.
The proposal would also boost the minimum rent that the poorest of the poor pay. Currently non-elderly, non-disabled renters must pay at least $50 a month toward their housing; the bill would boost that to $150 a month — a sum that would consume, for example, two-thirds of the monthly “general relief” check that some homeless people in Los Angeles County rely on.
This scheme has been championed by conservative commentators in the last few days — it’s plainly a way to energize the radical Trump base leading up to the midterms. These folks believe there are millions of poor people loafing around on their tax dollars but it seems easy for them to ignore the Ben Carson $31,000 dining room set, the Scott Pruitt and Steve Mnuchin thefts, and the trillion-dollar giveaway to the wealthiest among us. But these believers are in the minority — let’s not let them be the majority of voters in November.
The Poor Don’t Have a Prayer in Today’s Washington, Dana Milbank, WAPO