Saying it would worsen Los Angeles County’s crisis of homelessness, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will ask the Board of Supervisors to send a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson expressing their “strong opposition” to his proposal to reduce federal housing subsidies to the poor.
On April 25, Secretary Carson introduced a measure called 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. 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.
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,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, lead author of the motion urging the Board to oppose Secretary Carson’s measure. The Board will vote on May 8.
“(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,” Ridley-Thomas said.
“There is a need to reform the existing archaic provisions that regulate public housing – but this work should be done in collaboration and coordination with local public housing authorities in order to develop a plan that meaningfully and thoughtfully lifts individuals and families out of poverty, instead of exacerbating the crisis,” he said.
“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,” said 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.