The New York Times tagged along with HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, during a recent tour of public housing in Ohio. Dr. Carson seemed overly concerned that residents in government subsidized housing “not get too comfortable.” Dr. Carson was touted, especially by former GOP governor Mike Huckabee, as having a unique perspective on this position because of his childhood tenure in public housing. It was later revealed that this assertion was inaccurate. He did not specifically live in public housing, though his living accommodations (growing up with a single Mom and 3 siblings) were by no means luxurious; but, again, Carson proves that his humble beginnings do not necessarily translate into increased compassion.
As rental costs continue to rise disproportionately to the rise in income, HUD’s Section 8 housing subsidy program was already so popular that many waiting lists are 5-10 years and eligibility has been prioritized to 1) veterans; 2) senior citizens; and, 3) the disabled. Yet, there are still over 2 million homeless veterans, senior citizens; and, mentally and physically disabled. Then there’s the growing population of children under 18 who’re also homeless.
Yet Dr. Carson’s stated concern is that subsidized housing “not be a comfortable setting” that would make somebody say “I’ll just stay here. They’ll take care of me.” The group which comprises the bulk of section 8 residents, however, need long-term assistance. That’s before we even address the ones still on the street and the Trump administration’s $6 billion proposed budget cuts.
More importantly, why would Dr. Carson believe that anyone who had the opportunity to improve their circumstances, wouldn’t? He did. And one of the reasons he probably did is government- subsidized or income based housing is never designed to be comfortable. While the dwelling may be acceptable, the surrounding neighborhood is usually not.
While I admire his desire to “incentivize people who help themselves,” the bulk of Section 8 residents, based on the HUD prioritization, are unable to help themselves. If I know this, why doesn’t the secretary of HUD?
Featured image via screen capture, public housing causing resident’s concern, courtesy of wxii12.com