Secretary Carson Discusses Reforms at Book Distribution Event
HUD Secretary Ben Carson was recently in Sarasota, Fla., to join the Sarasota Housing Authority and local police for their annual book distribution event. HUD partners with local housing authorities, the National Book Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning on the Book Rich Environments initiative, which aims to promote literacy and improve educational outcomes by providing books to children living in public housing.
During the visit, Secretary Carson said many poor people living in subsidized housing need more financial “skin in the game” and encouragement to find jobs. He talked up his proposed reforms. Carson has proposed sweeping changes to HUD, including rent reforms and work requirements. He wants to raise rents for many residents by having them pay a larger percentage of their income, boost the minimum rent from $50 to $150 for the poorest residents, and shift income verification from an annual requirement to every three years.
The proposed rent hike has been sharply criticized by advocates for the poor. But Carson said, "$50 a month is not a lot of skin in the game,” and he added that there isn’t enough focus on the income verification change, which he said would allow people to work more without losing assistance, a common complaint. “The real meat of the rent reform is things like making the assessment of income every three years instead of one year so that people aren’t discouraged from taking a raise,” Carson said. “People aren’t discouraged from bringing another income earner in or getting married, things like that. Those are the things that have kept people chronically in poverty.”