by Fred Kammer, S.J.
During Ronald Reagan’s first term and in the budget that his Budget Director David Stockman later termed “pigs at the trough,” due to the goodies for the wealthy and other big interests, the rent on all poor tenants—elderly, disabled, and families with children—in federally subsidized housing was raised by 20%. How? By increasing the cap on rent from 25% of income to 30% of income for these poor tenants. Now the Obama Administration also is proposing to raise rents on many of our families with the lowest income in the nation. How? By raising the "minimum rent" for all residents to $75 a month.
In the Gulf South this would affect 15,613 households in Alabama, 22,092 in Florida, 10,343 in Louisiana, 8,929 in Mississippi, and 38,535 in Texas.
In an article entitled, “President's Proposal to Raise Rents on some of the Nation's Poorest Households Would Cause Serious Hardship,” Barbara Sard of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, describes the new proposal of the Obama Administration:
"The President's budget proposes to raise the rents charged to more than 500,000 of the nation's poorest families. It would do this by raising to $75 a month the 'minimum rent' charged to the poorest families in the rental assistance programs that the Department of Housing and Urban Development administers and eliminating state and local housing agencies' discretion to set the minimum rent below that level.
"Half a million families with incomes below $250 per month, or $3,000 per year, would face rent increases that many would have difficulty affording. For the vast majority of these households — about 400,000 of them — rents would increase by 50 percent or more.
"A substantial number of families in every state would face rent increases, although the severity of the impact would vary due to differences across the states in such factors as joblessness and the strength of other safety-net programs. The affected families include 725,000 children, and are disproportionately minority.
"This proposal comes even as a study by leading poverty researchers finds that the number of U.S. families with children living below a standard the World Bank uses to measure serious poverty in third-world countries — income of less than $2 per person per day — has more than doubled since the mid-1990s, to 1.46 million families with 2.8 million children"
Link to full report is http://www.cbpp.org/files/3-20-12hous.pdf
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