April 26th, 2018
Elected leaders of the national US tenants union today denounced the housing bill proposed April 25 by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as a “vicious and cruel” assault on the poorest of the poor.
“Carson’s proposals will push millions of people from their homes. Carson’s plan is not about moving people to work--its about needlessly cutting people from programs that enable them to find work,” says Ed Lucas, 59, President of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), Marine Corp vet and director of a neighborhood jobs center, who lives in a resident-owned, HUD-assisted building in Chicago. “Millions will be displaced if these deeply cruel proposals see the light of day. Congress should reject them out of hand.”
NAHT affiliates in Boston, Atlanta, Spokane and other cities have held or are planning local actions to protest the Carson-Trump rent increase and bogus “work” requirements. Tenants, joined by the HUD employees union, delivered a giant “Cease and Desist” order to the Boston HUD office in March. A similar action is planned in Atlanta on May 1.
In line with Trump’s 2019 budget proposals, Carson’s bill proposes draconian rent increases for the 4.6 million American households who receive HUD rental assistance. The bill would raise rents for tenants below the age of 65 from 30 to 35% percent of gross income; at least triple “minimum rents” paid by the most destitute; and eliminate deductions that keep rents affordable for seniors and disabled people. Overall, rents would jump overnight an average of 32% for 4.6 million households--and an incredible 111% for HUD tenants in Puerto Rico! Close to a million low income children of the most destitute households would face homelessness, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Trump wants to raise rents on the poorest of the poor, in order to cut taxes for the richest of the rich,” comments Deborah Arnold, 54, a minister and community activist and NAHT Vice President from Atlanta, Georgia. “80% of HUD tenant households are led by women. We, too, demand that Congress reject Trump’s vicious assault on the women, children, elderly and disabled people who live in HUD housing.”
Carson’s bill also proposes “work requirements” for HUD rental assistance, in line with Trump’s recent Executive Order that would require people to have a job or enroll in dubious “work programs” in order to receive Medicaid, Housing Assistance and Food Stamps. NAHT leaders denounced these proposals as administratively wasteful, ineffective and punitive, especially in the absence of jobs, training and resources to make them work. Trump’s 2019 budget actually proposes to cut job training and child care programs that enable HUD tenants to keep and find work, including successful programs such as Family Self Sufficiency and Jobs Plus in Public Housing.
“Trump lives in Public Housing--the White House. Will a work requirement be imposed on him?,” asked Geraldine Collins, 63, a disabled, retired medical administrator and NAHT VP/East who lives in senior housing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “Congress should make Trump do something useful, rather than tweeting, playing golf, watching cable TV, and destroying the nation’s social safety net.”
Comments Rachel Williams, 62, an Army widow, minister and long time community activist in Beaumont, Texas and NAHT Board VP/South: “Adding millions to the ranks of destitute and homeless people is deeply cruel and un-American. Homeland security begins with a home!”
Founded in 1991, NAHT is the national tenants union representing 2.1 million families in privately-owned, HUD assisted multifamily housing. NAHT’s mission is to empower residents to save and improve their homes as affordable housing. Contact NAHT to locate tenant spokespeople in your city.