People For the American Way

The Progressive Happy Hour: Fighting for Affordable Housing in the Trump Era

News and Analysis
The Progressive Happy Hour: Fighting for Affordable Housing in the Trump Era

With the lack of affordable housing already at a crisis point in cities and towns across the country, last week HUD Secretary Ben Carson floated a plan that would sharply increase what the lowest-income households have to pay in rent.

In the May 4 episode of “The Progressive Happy Hour,” co-hosts Christin “Cici” Battle and Drew Courtney sat down with Afua Atta-Mensah, executive director of Community Voices Heard, to talk about the fight for affordable housing under a presidential administration working to gut services for the poorest Americans.

“What Ben Carson has proposed is raising the rent in public housing development and for Section 8 vouchers. It has this false premise that if they raise it, well folks just had that other thousand in their other pocket,” Afua said. “Most people, their income is static—unless you’re expecting some raise. If you’re a nurse’s assistant making about $1,200 a month and you’re paying about $700 and the Section 8 voucher pays [the rest], with Ben Carson’s proposal, if your portion of the rent now goes up to $800, it’s not like there’s this other hundred dollars that was burning a hole in your pocket. That’s money that’s gonna have to come from somewhere. Which puts people in a lot of hard choices about buying medication, buy food, child care, a host of things. So it’s based off this false notion that folks really have this money, they just didn’t want to spend it.”

Afua urged listeners to take stock of what’s going on in their own communities with housing, to join a local organization focused on this issue, and to ask their representatives in Congress about their affordable housing agendas.

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