Trump Budget Might Add Work Requirements and Raise Rent for Housing Aid

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department is preparing to impose work requirements and jack up rents for housing aid recipients, according to a leaked draft of legislation.

The drafted legislation would allow work requirements of up to 32 hours per week and would require families that receive housing assistance to devote a larger percentage of their income toward paying rent, according to a document obtained by The Intercept last week. The document was dated January 17, 2018, and was authored by an unidentified HUD employee who was listed as department staff as recently as 2017.

GettyImages-904252346 Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson with President Donald Trump on January 12. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan would not comment on the document directly. In a statement, he told The Intercept, "I think what you’re talking about is going to be expressed publicly in the budget coming up, so prior to that we would have nothing to say."

The plan drew sharp criticism from housing advocates, who see it as the Trump administration's latest intended attack on social safety nets. 

"Work requirements don’t lead to stable employment or a path out of poverty. Cutting housing benefits won’t create the jobs and opportunities needed to lift families out of poverty," Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, tweeted Friday. "Work requirements only make it more difficult for people to get and keep jobs."

The fiscal year 2019 budget is set to be released by the White House Office of Management and Budget in late February. Yentel told Newsweek in a recent interview that she expects cuts to the HUD budget to be "devastating." 

"For every 10 of the lowest-income seniors, families with disabilities, families with kids, there’s only three affordable homes," Yentel said. "Even just holding the line with the funding levels with programs that can serve these families is not enough."

Trump's 2018 budget blueprint calls for HUD funding to be slashed by about $6 billion.

Though the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act kept the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, earlier versions of the GOP tax bill proposed eliminating tax-exempt private activity bonds that help fund about half of affordable-housing developments. In April 2017, HUD Secretary Ben Carson praised the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and public-private partnerships as a tool to offset potential housing cuts in the Trump budget last year. 

After tackling tax law in December, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, indicated that they wanted to start introducing legislation for welfare reforms and cuts to entitlement programs in 2018.

In a policy guidance letter from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services on January 11, the Trump administration made it possible for states to impose work requirements "among non-elderly, non-pregnant adult Medicaid beneficiaries." On February 2, the administration approved a request for recipients in Indiana to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week to receive Medicaid benefits. 

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