by Lynda Carson
At a time when a disastrous $6.2 billion budget cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development threatens the Oakland Housing Authority with the possible loss of 611 Section 8 vouchers, HUD Secretary Ben Carson has reportedly been touring around the country on a so-called “listening tour.”
As bizarre as it may sound, Carson has been on a phony listening tour as his own agency and programs are on the chopping block, facing massive budget cuts by the Trump regime.
Meanwhile, the HUD Secretary is being called out by community organizers, and protesters have hit the streets to demonstrate against the proposed $6.2 billion cutbacks to HUD programs. Activists claim that the Trump administration is proposing to kick everyone out of public housing in the next five years.
Even the union members who work for HUD have condemned the proposed $6.2 billion in budget cuts, and charge that it is a 14 percent reduction in HUD’s funding.
According to Local 476, “Almost one-third of the cuts would be from the public housing capital and operating funds. These cuts would hurt low-income families by reducing the availability of subsidized housing vouchers and severely reducing funding for major repairs at public housing, where facilities are already in poor condition. The proposed budget would also reduce funding to house the elderly by about 10 percent, to house people with disabilities by almost 20 percent, as well as Section 8 housing and vouchers for homeless veterans. Funding for the Community Development Block Grant Program and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program would also be cut.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP): “If a 15 percent cut were applied evenly across HUD programs in 2018, 625,000 households would lose the vouchers or other Section 8 assistance that helps them to live in private apartments at an affordable rent, and as many as 200,000 other households could lose public housing or other rental assistance. (These estimates reflect expected increases in rental costs next year.) The vast majority of these cuts would fall on seniors, people with disabilities, or families with children, putting many at risk of eviction and even homelessness.”
HUD Secretary Carson needs to protect and support HUD programs. However, Carson supports Trump’s proposed $6.2 billion in budget cuts for HUD, and has offered virtually no details as to how he will deal with the housing crisis that has spread across the nation.
Reportedly, his bizarre appointment to HUD has resulted in nothing short of bewilderment and frustration for housing advocates. Before he became the latest HUD Secretary, Carson did not have any experience in housing policies or in running a housing agency.
According to estimates from the Affordable Housing website estimator, the Oakland Housing Authority faces a disastrous $23,273,475 in federal budget cuts due to Trump’s proposed cuts to the HUD budget.
This includes $7,076,798 in budget cuts and elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program, $2,159,809 in cuts and elimination of the Home Program, $4,455,393 in cuts from the Public Housing Capital Fund, $1,129,534 from the Public Housing Operating Fund, and $8,451,329 in cuts to the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
According to HUD, the Oakland Housing Authority has 13,422 federally subsidized housing units in its Section 8 inventory, and 2,122 units in its low rent inventory, formerly known as public housing units.
As a result of the proposed cuts to HUD, the Oakland Housing Authority may lose 611 or more Section 8 vouchers, placing thousands of elderly, disabled, chronically ill, and low-income renters at risk of homelessness.
The widespread damage to Oakland’s affordable housing programs, if the proposed cuts to HUD take effect, will place thousands of Oakland renters at risk of homelessness, and higher rents they cannot afford to pay.
Making matters worse, according to Carson Watch, a group of activists keeping a close watch on the HUD secretary’s activities, Carson has failed in his attempts to convince housing advocates that the proposed budget cuts to HUD will be replaced in a new infrastructure plan that has not been released yet by the Trump regime.
Due to the severity of the proposed budget cuts to HUD, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, the National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials, and the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association jointly sent a letter to members of Congress seeking funding for their public housing projects all across the nation.
Trump’s proposed HUD cutbacks also threaten the Section 8 voucher holders and the disabled and elderly renters in around 155 low-income affordable housing projects in Oakland with higher rents, or eviction from their housing. The proposed HUD cuts will have a disproportionate impact on African-American women residing in HUD’s subsidized housing programs.
Instead of receiving details on how the HUD secretary plans to deal with the housing crisis all across the nation, what housing advocates are getting from Carson’s so-called listening tour, in addition to the lies and propaganda from the Trump regime, are a bunch of dumb stories by Ben Carson, about Ben Carson.
Carson likes to publicly brag about himself while telling people stories on the listening tour, including how he used to only operate on the brains of children. He likes to brag about how he refused to operate on old people because they might be dead in five years, as crazy as that sounds. Carson reportedly told that story at a National Low-Income Housing Coalition conference.
Just try to imagine being a senior citizen who desperately needed brain surgery to be able to live longer, and facing age discrimination because Ben Carson refused to operate on old people while he was a surgeon.
Not only has Carson been busy bragging about himself on his listening tour, but while doing so, he has allowed HUD to be placed at risk because he has not staffed the multi-billion-dollar agency properly with enough principal staff needed to run the massive billion agency.
At present, HUD is lacking an Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public and Indian Housing, an Assistant Secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development, an Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, an Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, an Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, a President of Ginnie Mae, a Chief Information Officer, an Assistant Secretary for Field Policy and Management, and a Chief Operations Officer. This is a poor way to run an agency that had a $48.9 billion budget in 2017.
Additionally, in response to HUD’s recent decision to demolish two public housing projects and force the renters out of their public housing in Cairo, Illinois, a group of sixth-graders wrote letters to HUD Secretary Carson asking him to help save their school and community. Reportedly, Carson has ignored the pleas of the students as he wandered off to his next stop on his phony listening tour.
More details about the proposed $6.2 billion in budget cuts to HUD are expected to be released sometime in May.
Lynda Carson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org