HUD proposes to raise rent on the poorest people

Cross Currents:
A Column by Bill Christopher
Posted 5/7/18

Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has kept a low profile since he and the Trump Administration took office. It certainly isn’t a case of having nothing to do, given the …

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HUD proposes to raise rent on the poorest people


Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has kept a low profile since he and the Trump Administration took office.

It certainly isn’t a case of having nothing to do, given the housing crisis which a growing number of American families are facing.

Apartment rents continue to spiral upward, housing prices are ridiculous and mortgage interest rates are starting to creep upward.

“Affordable housing” is a very elusive term in today’s housing and rental markets.

So, to top it all off, Secretary Carson has announced a plan which calls for raising the amount of rent that low-income families are expected to pay.

HUD’s proposal calls for a tripling of rent payments for the poorest households as well as making it easier for property owners to demand work requirements for those receiving federal housing subsidies. Any such proposal requires Congressional approval.

The proposal is bad public policy

The “reform” effort to overhaul how rental subsidies are calculated would impact an estimated 4.7 million low-income families. Under current HUD policies, tenants with either a housing voucher and those residing in a Section 8 or other subsidized complex usually pay rent of 30 percent of their adjusted income - which is capped at $50 per month for the poorest of people receiving assistance.

HUD’s reform proposal would triple the capped rent at $150 per month. This is based on increasing the 30 percent policy to 35 percent.

While this capped amount of $150 per month might sound like a steal to many of us — given the marketplace’s current rents of $1,200 or $1,500 or $2,000 per month — it is far from it. The people affected don’t make much income or rely on Social Security benefits.

An increase of $100 per month would be a huge blow to them and would highly likely cause such families to go with less food and/or medications or be displaced.

Secretary Carson’s plan is bad public policy and should be tossed. The proposed work requirement idea was recently proposed in conjunction with the federal food stamp program. The work component has merit as long as people over 65 and those disabled would be exempt.

Westminster students shine at career tech contest

Kudos to the Career Technical Education program (I admit, I still call it vocational training) at Westminster High School! Students participating in the 2018 Skills USA contest in Colorado Springs achieved two state championships and brought home other multiple awards.

Berny De La Cruz Santos garnered a First Place in the Information Technology Services Challenge while Gustavo Perez and Gryphon Evans teamed up to take First Place in the Interactive Media and Video Game Design Challenge. Paola Benitez and Aroon Enriquez were selected to represent Colorado at the upcoming 2018 National Technology Student Association Conference in Atlanta for their architectural design project. They worked with industry professionals to learn about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, building codes and permits, electrical systems and other components of building design/construction.

Way to go Westy CTE students!

Thornton’s oil and gas regs shot down

Once again Colorado courts have shot down municipal attempts at making oil and gas exploration more palpable for adjacent residents.

Longmont, Broomfield and Boulder have previously had all or a part of their local set of rules and regulations such as larger setbacks from the fracking operations thrown out by the courts. In the City of Thornton case, the judge threw out a mandatory minimum setback of 750 feet and pipeline safety provisions to protect adjacent residents.

Like in the other cases, the ruling cited the local provisions to be in conflict with the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s rules. The commission trumped 15 different rules that the Thornton City Council had adopted. It should be noted that Judge Edward Moss did not reject other rules requiring exploration companies to consolidate wells and minimize “site disturbances.”

Big challenge to get state to act

While the decision was disappointing, it was not a surprise at all.

The basic rule of state law and regulations trump local law and regulations remains intact. The Colorado Legislature needs to come to grips with these ongoing issues so that state law will be more in tune with what people need where there are fracking operations.

One of the problems in getting enough clout at the State Capitol on this issue is that voters are divided. If you don’t live in the impacted area, a lot of people don’t care or support the status quo on exploratory drilling and pumping. Also, not all Colorado municipalities or counties are faced with this issue.

Again, if it isn’t your issue, there is not the motivation to be involved. Such cities as Denver, Aurora, Westminster, Arvada, Colorado Springs and Lakewood aren’t faced with drilling, large truck traffic, sound and air quality issues compared to Broomfield, Thornton, Greeley and Adams County. It will likely take a citizen-initiated drive to put something on the state-wide ballot.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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