On May 21, HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified before the House Financial Services (HFS) Committee for a hearing on “Housing in America: Oversight of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” In an often times contentious hearing, members of the committee grilled Secretary Carson on a number of matters including, cuts to his agency’s budget, a proposal to increase the share of rent that low-income households must pay, roll back of affirmatively furthering fair housing, and a recent proposed rule to prohibit mixed-status families from receiving housing assistance from Section 214 covered programs. Carson countered accusations of evicting children from assisted housing due to the need to create space for “hundreds of thousands of children as well as elderly and disabled people on the waiting list who are legal citizens.” Enterprise joined housing, civil rights, and immigration organizations in opposing HUD’s proposed rule.
In a rare occurrence of bipartisanship during the hearing, committee members from both sides agreed with Secretary Carson that authorization of the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program should be codified into law and made permanent. According to Secretary Carson, he has asked every office to look at their internal procedures to see what changes can be made to distribute funds more quickly and believes making the permanently authorizing the program would be a positive. Last Congress, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO-2) introduced bipartisan legislation that would permanently authorized CDBG-DR. More recently, Enterprise testified before this same committee to discuss ways of improving CDBG-DR.
Members also asked the secretary questions regarding HUD’s coordination around Opportunity Zones and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). When asked specifically about the Housing Credit, Carson voiced support and his interest in utilizing the Housing Credit along with the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program with the Opportunity Zone tax incentive.