Public housing advocates fear that homelessness and poverty will surge across the country if the Trump administration implements budget cuts outlined in a draft leaked from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday.
The draft revealed that the White House is looking into slashing HUD’s budget by more than $6 billion in order to keep President Trump’s campaign promise to cut domestic spending and boost the defense budget.
The proposed cuts, first reported by The Washington Post, would eliminate several federal grants for social services such as meal assistance, after-school programs, employment workshops and other low-income community development efforts. The budget instead suggests that such initiatives should be funded by non-federal means.
Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, speculated that the budget proposal signals the Trump administration’s impending “assault on poor people in America.”
“Obviously these cuts would have a direct effect on the most vulnerable people in society — it’s insulting,” Morial, who served as the Democratic mayor of New Orleans between 1994 and 2002, told the Daily News on Thursday evening. “It’s designed to transfer wealth from the most vulnerable Americans to military contracts.”
Former Democratic New Orleans mayor Marc Morial (speaking) called the proposed cuts an “assault on poor people in America.”
It became known earlier this week that the White House is also considering significant cuts to several national security agency budgets in order to fund President Trump’s controversial Mexican border wall.
The potential cuts have prompted bipartisan reproach.
Amid backlash over the leaked HUD draft, Secretary Ben Carson sent an email to staffers on Thursday, urging them to not jump to conclusions as negotiations with the White House are apparently “underway.”
“It’s unfortunate that preliminary numbers were published out but please take some comfort in knowing that starting numbers are rarely final numbers,” Carson wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Post.
Secretary Carson greets his employees after his address to them on Monday.
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Carson also noted that the preliminary budget does not propose cuts to rental assistance programs or other reductions that could result in low-income families being pushed into homelessness.
But Morial, and a number of other fair-housing advocates, argue that the proposed cuts alone will trigger the same dire consequences.
“If you’re cutting budgets and not building affordable housing, rents will rise and homelessness will rise,” Morial said.
Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, agreed.
The proposed cuts signal President Trump’s pledge to slash domestic spending and boost the defense budget.
“The proposed cuts would devastate critical programs that keep roofs over the heads of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” Yentel said in a statement. “They are in direct contrast to Mr. Trump’s promises to revitalize distressed communities and ensure that ‘nobody’s going to be dying on the street’ from homelessness.”
Another fair-housing organization official, Douglas Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, asserted that the proposed cuts are “not only cruel” but also “counterproductive.”
“To thrive, families and communities need the essential assistance these HUD and other key programs provide,” Rice said in a statement.
Secretary Carson has repeatedly disputed such claims, arguing that HUD programs have become a “way of life” for too many Americans.
Morial bitterly scoffed at Carson’s reasoning.
“Do you want to lock them in homelessness instead — is that better?” he said.