Pay Higher Rent and Get Out of Poverty Quicker

New Orleans      At first this idea may sound really, really stupid.  Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) responsible for financing the public housing and housing subsidy vouchers across the country has announced a plan in his words, “to give poor people a way out of poverty.”  His plan to achieve this is to raise the rent required to live in public housing.  His idea is that being forced to pay more rent will somehow force poor families to get out of poverty by making them work harder.  Somehow in his logic, paying more rent, thereby making a poor family poorer, will somehow make them richer.  So, if at first this idea sounds really, really stupid, once you really think about it for even a minute, it is difficult not to conclude that in fact this idea is in fact, really, really, really stupid.

A report from the DC-based research outfit, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities done for the Associated Press found that in the 100 largest US metropolitan areas, lower income tenants would have to pony up an average of about 20% more for their rent.  This huge bite into lower income and working families’ income would impact four million people and raise revenue for HUD by $3.2 billion once fully implemented.  The Center found that 75% of the increase would be born by working families, the elderly, and the disabled.  I hope your following me closely.  Working families would pay more which would be an obstacle to their security and exiting poverty.  The elderly would pay more with most of them on fixed income facing an increase disproportionate to any inflation adjustment.  You get the picture.  What’s more the Carson Get-Out-of-Poverty-Through-Higher-Rent plan would also eliminate deductions from income calculations that have prevailed in situations where there were high medical bills or child care costs.

Looking at the Center’s state by state chart of families impacted there’s only one thing that one can say about this without any fear of correction:  this is an equal opportunity program since everyone in all states gets screwed.  Let’s just pull a couple out of the pile.  In Arkansas 45,000 families will be affected that include a total of over 89,000 individuals, including children obviously who account for 39,000 of that number, almost half.   13,000 elderly will have to come up with more money and almost 16,000 of the disabled will have to do so as well.  Arkansas isn’t hit as hard as many states.  The average increase will by $670 about $56 per month pushing $30 million collectively.   In Louisiana the average rental increase will be close to $800.  In Mississippi, it will be $830 per year, and on and on it goes.

Can families just save more and work a bit harder as Carson and HUD argue?  The AP reporters note that the increases are “about six times greater than the growth in average hourly earnings, putting poor workers at an increased risk of homelessness because wages haven’t kept pace with housing expenses.”  So, the Carson HUD plan will increase rents in order to increase homelessness.

We now have a HUD and its secretary promoting a pro-poverty plan!  America, what a country!

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Terrible Idea of the Day: Evict Public Housing Tenants!

New Orleans     Almost everyone else in America knows that we have a national affordable housing crisis.  Maybe someone in Washington could take a minute out of their day pop by or send an email to Dr. Ben Carson, the head of Trump’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) operation responsible for housing and give him a clue about the housing dilemma facing lower income families that is his responsibility by law.

Not having a clue, Carson is now proposing to take several draconian steps to punish the poor in public housing.  On one hand he is trying to time-limit public housing so that it is a temporary benefit rather than long term based on income.  This proposal affects millions of low income families.  Work requirements would be part of the package.  On the other hand, Carson wants to triple the rents of the poorest of the families in public housing or benefiting from section 8 housing support vouchers in private housing by raising the minimum rent from $50 to $150 over a period of time.  This proposal over time would hurt 750,000 people according to HUD.

I have to wonder where Carson and HUD, along with their governmental pushers and enablers, think that people will go if they are priced or timed out of public housing? Perhaps the streets?  No, that wouldn’t work.  The rich and politicians don’t like vast and increasing numbers of homeless on the streets.  The only thing certain is that they will hope and pray that the poor are invisible to them, which seems the only policy that has their full commitment.  But, wait, I must be pretending that they care about the consequences of these policies rather than allowing them to be purely vindictive.  My bad!

The puppet master for this proposal now being mouthed by Carson seems to be budget director Mick Mulvaney.  Yes, Mick Mulvaney, the same public servant who is doing double duty trying to destroy the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  He rivals President Trump these days in dominating the news cycle.  Today he was not only trying to destroy public housing supports, but he was also trying to block public access to the CFPB’s popular database of complaints from consumers.  Even better he was revealing his “pay to play” policy while he was a congressman by meeting with lobbyists first and foremost if they had donated to his campaign.  He offered this obvious insight to a group of bankers about why they needed to put more dollars into buying other congressmen if they wanted to gut the CFPB and Dodd-Frank.

There’s a lesson here of course.  After decades of dismantling public housing, millions stuck on waiting lists around the country for section 8 vouchers which are not an entitlement, the crash of the real estate construction market after the housing speculation bubble burst, the creation of the credit desert and slowdown of construction financing for affordable housing, rising rents and record eviction rates, the problem turns out to be that these damn poor people didn’t pool enough money and food stamps together to pay lobbyists and bribe politicians like Mulvaney with campaign contributions.

Darned, why didn’t we think of that!

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