County supervisors to vote on letter regarding federal housing cuts for the poor

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County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas plans to ask the Board of Supervisors for a vote at the May 8 meeting on a motion to send a letter to the Trump administration expressing “strong opposition” over housing cuts for the poor.

The letter would be addressed to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson regarding his proposal to reduce federal housing subsidies to low income citizens.

In response to plans to vote on the motion, Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office said she is still researching the issue until the motion is heard in a formal capacity next week.

Tony Bell, spokesman for Barger, said the supervisor would like to give the public the opportunity to express their views at the meeting and do further research before deciding how she would vote on the motion.

Representatives for Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office said the supervisor had not made a decision how she would vote yet. Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office could not be reached for comment.

On April 25, Carson introduced the Making Affordable Housing Work Act, which would triple the minimum monthly rent that some families receiving federal housing subsidies must pay – from $50 to $150. The HUD estimates this would affect more than 175,000 families nationwide.

The measure would also require tenants in subsidized housing to increase their share of the rent to 35 percent of their adjusted income, up from 30 percent. This is expected to affect more than 2 million households across the US, according to the HUD secretary’s office.

Finally, the measure allows public housing authorities to impose work requirements – up to 32 hours a week. The proposed changes require approval by Congress.

“This proposal could have a devastating effect on Los Angeles County, which has one of the nation’s least affordable housing markets and, as a result, the largest homeless population,” Ridley-Thomas wrote in the motion. “(Secretary Carson’s) proposed changes could further compound the financial and housing insecurities faced by lower-income families throughout the County, leaving families at higher risk of homelessness and compounding the stress on other government systems, including health, public safety, social services and homeless services.”

Supervisor Janice Hahn also issued a statement ahead of the planned discussion for next week.

“Section 8 units in LA County are home to some of our poorest families and often are the only thing standing between them and homelessness,” added Supervisor Janice Hahn, the motion’s co-author. “Secretary Carson’s proposal to raise the rent on Section 8 residents is cruel and unnecessary.  We need creative solutions for homelessness from our HUD secretary but this proposal is counterproductive and should not be allowed to move forward.”

Section 8 refers to vouchers issued by the federal government to help very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing.

“There is one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson said in a call with reporters in April. “The current system isn’t working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.”

The HUD secretary said government spending on housing increases every year, yet only 1 in 4 eligible families receive housing benefits while the rest are on a waiting list.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April directing federal agencies to expand work requirements for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare. The agencies must issue recommendations to the White House within 90 days.

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