HUD proposal to raise rent, impose work requirement is receiving blowback from struggling Coloradans

Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 26, 2018

DENVER -- A proposal by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to increase rent for those receiving federal housing assistance, doesn't sit well with Coloradans who are struggling to keep up in this wild housing market.

"If we weren't on housing assistance, we couldn't afford this place, said Diana Miller, a new mom, who lives in a subsidized apartment with her boyfriend, Steven Hamblin, and their 6-month-old son, John Carl Eugene Hamblin. "It would be more difficult for me to get more diapers and more food for him."

HUD statistics

Numbers from HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research show 113,791 Coloradans received federal housing assistance in 2017.

Nationwide, HUD assists 4.7 million families with affordable housing options.

In a conference call with reporters, Carson said, "Every year it takes more money, millions of dollars more to serve the same number of household. Our budget continues to grow just to keep pace."

Carson's proposal ups the gross income paid to rent from 30 to 35 percent, triples the monthly rent payment from $50 to $150 and makes it easier to impose work requirements.

Elderly and disabled residents wouldn't be impacted for six years.

Hamblin said he and Ms. Miller don't trust the administration to look out for the disabled.

"(President Trump) was making fun of disabled people, saying, 'Oh disabled people don't need to be on Social Security. They need to work,'" Hamblin said.

Dana Leaks, a single mother of six, is also opposed to the proposal.

"It would have a big impact on me on daycare for my kids," she said. 

It's not just residents who are worried, so are the nonprofits that help them, like Volunteers of America - Colorado.

"Our residents are literally looking at their paycheck and are deciding whether they're going to spend it on foot, on rent or on medication," said Patina Grayson, VOA Colorado's director of public affairs and marketing. "Any increase in their rent would just be unrealistic for them to match."

Grayson told Denver7 that VOA is dedicated to making sure residents can stay in their homes, even if the organization has to find other resources for funding.

She said if Congress signs off on HUD's proposal, "It would just add a layer of complexity to our affordable housing."

"It's already difficult to hire qualified individuals familiar with all of HUD's requirements and adding extra layers would just make recruitment more difficult."

A spokeswoman at Denver Housing Authority said it was premature to comment about the HUD proposal.

She said they'll wait to see what Congress does first.