HUD Tenant Leaders Demand Congress Declare Trump’s 2019 Budget “Dead on Arrival”
Elected leaders of the national US tenant union today demanded immediate rejection by Congress of President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget request, released on February 12.
“Trump’s budget will push millions of people from their homes; starve seniors, children and families; and deny health care to millions of people,” said Ed Lucas, President of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), who lives in a resident-owned, HUD-assisted building in Chicago. “People will die if these proposals see the light of day. Congress should declare Trump’s 2019 budget ‘dead on arrival’ instead.”
Trump’s budget proposes to cut 200,000 people from Section 8 Vouchers next year—10% of the total—and an astounding 37% from Public Housing operating budgets, already underfunded at 85% of needs. Trump proposes zero funds to address the $40 billion backlog of needed health and safety repairs in Public Housing. Overall, the $6.8 billion in proposed cuts would be the deepest cuts in HUD’s history.
Trump again proposes draconian rent increases for millions of Americans who receive HUD rental assistance. Trump’s budget would raise rents for most tenants from 30 to 35% percent of income, triple “minimum rents” paid by the most destitute, and eliminate deductions that keep rents affordable for seniors and disabled people. The budget repeals Section 8 Enhanced Vouchers, which would immediately displace more than 30,000 families and seniors across the nation. Overall, rents would jump overnight an average of 20% for 4.6 million households--and an incredible 83% for HUD tenants in Puerto Rico!
“Trump wants to cut taxes for the richest of the rich, paid for by raising rents on the poorest of the poor”, comments Deborah Arnold, 54, a minister and community activist and NAHT Vice President from Atlanta, Georgia. “80% of HUD tenant households are led by women. We, too, demand that Congress reject Trump’s vicious assault on the women, children, elderly and disabled people who live in HUD housing.”
Trump will soon propose “work requirements” for HUD rental assistance, Food Stamps and Medicaid. NAHT leaders denounced these proposals as administratively wasteful, ineffective and punitive, especially in the absence of jobs, training and resources to make them work. “Trump lives in public housing--the White House. Will a work requirement be imposed on him?” asked Geraldine Collins, 63, a disabled, retired medical administrator and NAHT VP/East who lives in senior housing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “Congress should make Trump do something useful, rather than tweeting, playing golf, watching cable TV, and destroying the nation’s social safety net.”
Lucas, 59, Marine Corps vet and director of a neighborhood job training center in Chicago, added, “Trump’s termination of community development grants and cuts to job training will lay waste to entire cities and rural areas, too. These policies will truly cause ‘American carnage’.”
Trump’s budget proposes complete elimination of Community Development, HOME and Choice Neighborhood grants to cities; Neighborworks, Community Action and Americorps programs that aid low income communities; Legal Services for the poor; and Low Income Heating Assistance, as well as deep cuts to job training, public education, work-study, and rural assistance programs.
Beyond that, Trump has proposed to slash virtually every mandatory “safety net” program for the American people, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Food Stamps. Trump’s cuts would pay for a net $1.5 trillion tax cut for the 1% and giant corporations, and huge hikes in the Pentagon budget, including first strike nuclear weapons, increased war spending, and the Wall.
Comments Rachel Williams, 62, an Army widow, minister and long time community activist in Beaumont, Texas and NAHT Board VP/South: “Adding millions to the ranks of destitute and homeless people is deeply cruel and un-American. Homeland security begins with a home!”
Adds Eleanor Walden, 87, a long time civil rights and social justice activist living in senior housing in Berkeley, California, “Trump’s budget and other actions criminalize immigrants, poor people and people of color while subsidizing division and hate among the American people. Trumps budget is a recipe for war, inequality, racism, and fear.
“Congress should instead pass the Peoples Budget to embrace prosperity, peace, unity and hope for our future.” The Congressional Progressive Caucus is expected to release its FY 2019 Peoples Budget alternative in March.
Founded in 1991, NAHT is the national tenant union representing 2.1 million families in privately-owned, HUD assisted multifamily housing. NAHT’s mission is to empower residents to save and improve their homes as affordable housing.
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Photo: Protesters consider the Trump budget immoral. Source: Getty Images.