Photo via Creative Commons
For the first time in two years, New York City this week began issuing new Section 8 vouchers, which serve as a rental subsidy for lower-income families. The new vouchers come after the city’s Housing Authority got a boost in funding from the federal government, allowing the authority to dole out 6,200 additional vouchers, according to amNY. Now, NYCHA has started calling possible tenants on its over 100,000-person waitlist and has already distributed 35 vouchers. The city oversees the largest Section 8 program in the country, with roughly 90,000 vouchers currently issued.
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Can anyone, at any income level, justify and sustain paying 80+ percent of their income on rent? Obviously not. According to the Housing and Urban Development website, “If a household pays more more than 30 percent of its gross income on rent and utilities it is considered rent-burdened.” Despite HUD’s claim, amNY highlighted two NYC renters in Section 8 housing who spend over 80 percent of their income on rent. The housing policies peg their rent to their income. Robert Rodriguez, who has lived in his Upper West Side apartment for 41 years and filed a lawsuit last June against the city, now pays a whopping 86 percent of his income in rent. Adding to the problems, on Wednesday HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed massive changes, which would triple rent for the poorest households and make it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
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Starrett City photo via Matt Green on Flickr, President Trump photo via Wikimedia
The owners of Starrett City, the largest federally subsidized housing project in the country, recently announced they found a buyer for the $850 million Brooklyn development. Located in East New York, Starrett City sits on 145 acres and includes 5,881 affordable apartments for 15,000 residents. As the New York Times reported, President Donald Trump partially owns the housing development and will benefit from the sale of the property. Since the sale requires federal approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and state officials, this puts the president on both sides of the agreement, creating a potential conflict of interest for him.
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President Trump appointed family friend Lynne Patton on Wednesday to oversee New York’s federal housing programs, despite her clear lack of housing experience. Patton, who formerly arranged tournaments at Trump’s golf courses and planned Eric Trump’s wedding, will head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, and will oversee the distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars. As reported by the Daily News, Patton’s relationship with the Trump family dates back to 2009 when she first began as their event planner.
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Just two days after newly appointed Secretary of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson went along with plans to cut federal funding to NYCHA by at least $35 million, the Trump administration is reportedly considering decreasing HUD’s total budget by a staggering $6 billion, or 14 percent, according to a leaked budget draft obtained by the Washington Post. Though it’s not clear how the cuts will affect NYC specifically, previous estimates said cuts to NYCHA’s federal aid could easily balloon to $150 million this year, and Mayor de Blasio was already weighing his options for how to deal with the blow. The Wall Street Journal reports that he said yesterday he plans to put aside city money to help fill the gap, but if the city is “cut on many, many fronts simultaneously,” there won’t be enough to cover the loss in federal funding.
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Retired neurosurgeon and failed Republican presidential nominee Dr. Ben Carson is officially the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which will put him in charge of 8,000 federal employees and an agency with a $47 billion budget, tasked with overseeing most of the nation’s affordable and public housing, enforcing fair housing laws, and providing low-income persons with mortgage insurance. The senate voted yesterday 58-41 to confirm his appointment; the relative lack of Democratic pushback was surprising considering Carson not only has no political experience, but no apparent knowledge of housing, development, or urban issues. Likely with this in mind, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has already extended an invitation for Carson to come tour the city’s housing developments.
What’s next for HUD?