Speed Reads

War on the Poor

Ben Carson's HUD housing proposal would raise rents on poor families by 20 percent, analysis finds

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's proposed "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" would raise annual rents for low-income households in America's 100 largest metro areas by roughly 20 percent, affecting about 4 million households and 8.3 million people, more than 3 million of them children, The Associated Press reports, citing an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Carson unveiled the plan in late April, and he recently told Fox News that the proposal is "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty," on the theory that charging more for rent will encourage people in low-income housing to find work.

But many people in public housing already work at least one job. In most cities, housing costs are rising much faster than wages, and for many families, the alternative to public housing isn't a job but homelessness. "There's no evidence that raising rents causes people to work more," said Will Fischer, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "For most of these rent increases, I don't think there's even a plausible theory for why they would encourage work."

The proposal, which requires congressional approval, would require low-income tenants to pay 35 percent of income in rent instead of 30 percent, triple the minimum rent to $150, and eliminate deductions for medical care, child care, and children in the home. An estimated 314,000 households would no longer be considered elderly or disabled, making them eligible for the sharp rent increases, too. You can read more at The Associated Press.