Trump Administration Proposes Raising Rents on Low-Income Families

484,000 California households could see a rent increase if Congress approves HUD Secretary Ben Carson's plan. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Co-op Housing Groups Offer Alternative

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

OAKLAND Calif. – Groups that work on issues of poverty and housing are criticizing the Trump administration’s proposal to raise rents on low-income families and institute work requirements.

On Wednesday, Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, announced a plan to raise the percentage that people who get HUD rental assistance pay – from 30 percent to 35 percent of their income. The plan also would allow public-housing authorities to implement work requirements as a condition of assistance.

Noni Session – outreach, media and communications team lead with the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative – says the moves are emblematic of a misconception that there is a correlation between poverty and laziness.

“It’s kind of a spurious discussion to assert that more work hours and a higher cost burden is going to do something to empower people who are already struggling in that they need Housing and Urban Development assistance,” says Session.

Carson said in a press statement that the current rental program discourages people from becoming self-sufficient and would save money for the department. The new rental structure would not apply to senior citizens or the disabled, who make up more than half of the 4.7 million households in the U.S. that receive HUD rental assistance.

HUD statistics show that 484,000 households in California depend on HUD subsidies. Congress would have to approve the plan.

Session says her group, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, helps groups of low-income tenants secure community-based financing to buy the property where they live – and then set up a nonprofit co-op board to keep rents reasonable.

“So we’re doing the footwork and the building work for the very deserving communities and community members,” says Session. “They need supportive organizations who not only believe in them but are not attempting to pull the rug out from underneath them and call that assistance.”

Recently, the Northern California Land Trust helped a local group buy a small apartment building in Oakland, to be run by the tenants.

The program also helps fight the eviction crisis. New data from the Eviction Lab project shows that more than 6,000 Americans were kicked out of their homes every day in 2016.