HUD Unveils Plan to Make the Poor Pay More Rent and Work for Housing Aid

April 26, 2018

HUD Secretary Ben Carson on Wednesday unveiled a major overhaul of the rental-housing system, proposing to increase the share of rent that low-income households must pay before receiving assistance and allow public housing authorities to impose work requirements.

The proposal to reshape the way HUD helps 4.5 million people meet their rent is part of a broader Trump administration push to link anti-poverty programs to employment.

Carson — who often refers to his own up-from-nothing life story as a parable for the poor and said last year that poverty is "a state of mind" — has long called on HUD to focus on helping people get off assistance, rather than expanding the benefits it provides.

The current system, Carson said on a conference call with reporters, creates "perverse incentives, including discouraging these families from earning more income and becoming self-sufficient."

Rental assistance recipients currently spend about 30 percent of their adjusted income on housing, with subsidies picking up the rest. Under the proposal HUD is sending to Congress, recipients would have to contribute 35 percent of their gross income or 35 percent of their income from working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage.

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