U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget was met with resistance Thursday when more than 20 cities across the nation organized protests outside HUD offices and held meetings with lawmakers.
Tenants who live in federally-funded housing gathered from Massachusetts to Florida, Colorado to Delaware, Washington to New York demanding that the proposal be dropped.
“We have 454 families. We eat in the area. We shop in the area,” Judy Montanez, a Section 8 tenant said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “We have helped this community survive.”
She explained that cutting HUD funding would not only affect the lives of tenants but the communities as well.
“If your housing isn’t stable, everything else is gonna go awry,” Afua Atta-Mensah, Community Voices Heard executive director said. “If you’ve got kids in school and you’re moving in and out of shelters, they’re not going to be able to focus on school. If you’re looking for a job and you don’t have a stable address, that’s going to affect your job search.”
The budget cuts proposed a 29 percent — or US$1.8 billion — cut to public housing as well as a 5 percent drop — almost US$1 billion — in government aid which allows tenants the freedom to choose their own homes. Stripping HUD would create havoc among the various programs it funds, affecting the lives in more than a quarter-million homes across the country.
“It’s not just: Don’t cut HUD, but (also) fully fund HUD,” said Atta-Mensah.
“Don’t let them use the cuts to do a shock doctrine thing where, ‘Oh there’s no money now, so now we need private partnerships, these hedge fund managers are going to take over where HUD left off with private capital,’” she warned.
With the continual rise of inflation pushing residents from one small house to an even smaller one, low-income tenants depend on government housing aid for the roof over their heads with property costs at one of the country’s highest registered real estate markets.
As if the budget cuts weren’t enough, the HUD proposal details an additional increase of tenant payments of 30 to 35 percent and removes deductions based on income.
Montanez speculated her rent would increase by US$200 every month if the proposals are approved.
“Affordable housing programs have kept me from being homeless. I would not be able to have my independence or my home without Section 8 and the medical deduction,” Martinez said.
According to statistics from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an average U.S. worker would have to earn at least US$21.21 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in 2017. This figure is nearly three times the amount allotted to minimum wage workers according to federal law. Of course, the needed amount is still subject to change depending on the city and state location.
“These are middle-class tenants trying to make a decent living, and we’re all just barely making it. We’re all struggling,” Montanez said, adding her social security is the only way she managed to survive one day to the next.
Time Money published a report which documented the average cost of rent in all 50 states, the highest being San Francisco, California with a monthly rent of US$3,600 and the lowest in the Midwestern city of Wichita, Kansas at US$470 per month.