At a forum hosted by conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute, HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, offered a resolve to public housing on never-ending waiting lists for repairs—fix your broken toilets instead of waiting on landlords.
During his keynote address, at an event called, Prospects for Black America, Carson, suggests that a “make your own repairs” approach gives more agency to government housing residents.
In his plan, HUD would set up escrow accounts for public housing residents. The money on hold would go towards repairs, and if residents left, then they would receive unused money plus interest.
Those who critique Carson’s solution cite that housing authorities across the country have been negligent for years. The repairs listed are from decades of neglect that should not be the responsibility of residents, pointed out New York City Council member Richie Torres.
With a backlog of repairs estimated at $26 billion the $1.9 billion earmarked in HUD’s budget for repairs and maintenance is not nearly enough. In New York City alone, New York City Housing Authority has a $17 billion backlog of maintenance requests.
Public Housing Crisis
Another major issue is that their simply is not enough affordable housing in the United States. According to a report by Make Change, only 1 in 4 families eligible for rental assistance receive it. As the wealthy get richer, the homeless population booms. Although housing is he key issue in poverty, the current Administration continues to reward the wealthiest demographic in the United States. If the new tax reform bill passes, it creates massive benefits for large corporations and affluent people.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and former presidential Republican primary candidate at one point lived in government subsidized housing in Detroit with his single mother who worked three jobs and two siblings. However, his personal childhood experiences prove to be ineffective in his tenure as HUD secretary.
Since his appointment, he draws criticism with attempting to gut policy that protects some of the poorest in the country. Congress Maxine Waters drilled him for not taking proper measures for public housing residents in Puerto Rico after Hurriane Maria.
As well, a coalition of Civil Rights organizations filed a lawsuit to stop the Small Area Fair Market Rent rule; a housing policy they claim will reinstate racial, economic segregation. The policy was scheduled to go into effect January 2018, but the legal action taken against the HUD caused the agency to postpone its implementation for two years.