Lawmakers told Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Wednesday that there’s little chance Congress will accept the Trump administration’s plan to make deep cuts in housing and development programs.
The president’s 2020 budget calls for eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program, the public housing capital fund and the HOME grant program for more affordable housing, for a one-year savings of more than $7 billion.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York noted that the administration’s new housing budget echoed last year’s proposal, which was rejected by Congress on a bipartisan basis. “This year, your proposal contains even deeper cuts and would greatly reduce public housing and end most community development block grants. It would lead to more people struggling to find affordable housing and more people falling into homelessness,” she said. Carson did little to push back, but said the administration wants to provide safe, decent and affordable housing “While being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
He added that recently enacted tax breaks to encourage investment in almost 9,000 economically distressed communities – called Opportunity Zones – would take the place of some of the proposed cuts. Inspection notice: Carson said HUD will give public housing authorities a 14-day notice of upcoming inspections, rather than a much longer warning period, to prevent them from covering up serious deficiencies in the buildings. When Carson told California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar that he was “Not aware of anyone trying to curtail” a complete and accurate count,a dubious Aguilar responded, “Have you been to a cabinet meeting?”
The Trump administration has been pushing for the 2020 Census to include a controversial question on citizenship status, something many groups say will discourage immigrants and others from participating in the decennial count.