POLITICS
04/26/2018 06:37 am ET

Ben Carson Thinks Poor People Should Pay Higher Rent If They Want Government Help

The HUD secretary also wants stricter work requirements for people living in subsidized housing.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is proposing to increase rent for millions of low-income tenants in government-subsidized housing and impose stricter work requirements.

The plan, unveiled Wednesday, would raise rent to 35 percent of gross income for more than 2 million families now paying 30 percent of adjusted income for subsidized housing. It would also mean that the poorest households ― more than 700,000 of them ― could see monthly rental caps triple to $150 from $50, HUD said. Elderly and disabled tenants would be exempt from the increase.

In addition, Carson wants to give public housing agencies the ability to impose minimum work requirements, excluding the elderly and the disabled.

“Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households,” Carson said Wednesday on a call with reporters. “It’s clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.” It also discourages people from working, he added. 

Carson’s proposal falls in line with President Donald Trump’s broader push to curb federal assistance. The Department of Health and Human Services began encouraging states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients earlier this year. The Department of Agriculture is also contemplating more stringent work requirements for people on food stamps.

Carson’s plan could push low-income people toward homelessness, some advocates said. 

“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.”

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