Cymbrowitz and Hevesi Urge Rejection of HUD Secretary Carson’s Proposal to Hike Rents of Most Vulnerable New Yorkers, Including Elderly and Disabled

May 9, 2018

New York State Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) and Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) are urging their colleagues in Congress to reject Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson’s “misguided” plan to hike the rents of our most vulnerable New Yorkers.

In a strongly worded letter sent to the New York Congressional delegation, the lawmakers call the HUD plan -- officially dubbed the Making Affordable Housing Work Act of 2018 – “patently untrue.” If enacted, they say the plan would force public housing residents to pay more for their apartments and would exacerbate a homelessness crisis that already rivals that of the Great Depression.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz serves as Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee and Assemblyman Hevesi chairs the Social Services Committee.

“Under Secretary Carson’s proposal, public housing residents would be required to pay 35 percent of their gross income toward rent, compared to the current 30 percent of their adjusted income,” Assemblymembers Cymbrowitz and Hevesi write. “This proposed increase is especially disturbing given that HUD’s own website considers families paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing to be cost burdened, and warns that they may have difficulty affording other necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.”

“For folks already struggling to make ends meet, this significant hike would have devastating effects – and would move families even farther away from the self-sufficiency Secretary Carson hopes to inspire,” they write.

In their letter, Assemblymembers Cymbrowitz and Hevesi explain that contrary to HUD’s claims, seniors and those living with disabilities who are currently receiving assistance would be adversely affected by the rent hike. “The bill establishes a new minimum rent for households that are now exempt – including the elderly and disabled. These recipients would now need to pay 30 percent of their gross monthly income in rent, but not less than $50, placing a new financial burden on the backs of our most vulnerable,” they write.

The plan would also spur uncertainty in the public housing community by allowing the HUD secretary and some building owners to impose even higher rents than are outlined in the bill through alternative rent structures, work requirements and de facto time limits, according to the lawmakers. “Current housing assistance guidelines may be flawed, but they do provide a level of stability that low-income tenants and their landlords simply can’t afford to lose,” Assemblymembers Cymbrowitz and Hevesi write.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in government and all stakeholders to find a legislative solution that truly makes affordable housing work for our families,” Assemblyman Hevesi said. “Despite its name, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz and I firmly believe Secretary Carson’s proposal is the antithesis of such an effort, and urge our Federal representatives to consider the consequences of – and ultimately reject – this harmful plan.”

“Imperiling people’s ability to remain in their homes, apartments and communities robs them of dignity and destabilizes our communities,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “Along with Assemblyman Hevesi, I urge our colleagues in Congress to not allow our seniors, people living with disabilities and other vulnerable residents to become collateral damage in a draconian budget-balancing scheme.”