If you’re looking for a reason to marshal some hope and respect for the wayward Trump White House, don’t look to Ben Carson.
The unlikely Trump pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was in Aurora yesterday to, well, it’s unclear why he was here.
Carson toured Aurora’s new Village at Westerly Creek affordable housing project, remarking how spacious they are. He asked what the counter tops were made of, clearly impressed that subsidized, low-rent housing could, or should, be so nice. The brand-new apartments may not be $31,000-office-dining-room-table nice he got busted trying to buy with your tax dollars, but, hey, neither is the dining couture Carson had to settle for.
Uninterested in talking scandal, Carson wanted to point out that if you bring in deep-pocketed banks and investors and then gave them huge tax credits, they could build places like Westerly Creek in Aurora and then collect close to market-rents by handing over federal and local tax-dollar-generated rent subsidies and the cash of poor people to these private investors.
It’s called win-windfall. It actually was a product of the last Congress and administration. Westerly Creek has taken years to create and complete.
Don’t get me wrong. These are really nice homes for people who work hard and need a break. These isn’t your father’s skanky Denver housing project that drove down property values for miles around.
And there’s no arguing about the growing desperate need for people to pay something they can afford for a place to live. The waiting list for Westerly Creek is already five years long, and it’s not even completely open and rented yet.
I’ve long believed that government should house the working poor and those unable to work at all.
That’s absolutely not what Carson and his boss, President Donald Trump, say they believe.
Carson has infamously remarked that making it easy or comfortable for poor people to have a decent place to live only encourages them to stay on the dole.
A medical doctor by trade before he ran for president — and had his lunch handed to him by Trump and every other 2016 GOP presidential carny act — Carson sees poverty as a condition easily cured by prescribing money for the ailing victim. If they don’t have any money, then they just need to get some. Government money has no restorative powers for the symptoms of poverty, Carson says.
He reiterated that yesterday when he told Sentinel reporter Kara Mason, “Real compassion is not patting people on the head and saying, ‘there, there, you poor little thing.’ Real compassion is giving them an opportunity to realize the American dream.”
That’s what poor people need, you see, more “opportunity.” Right now, Aurora is rich in opportunity to make a whopping $11 or so an hour. Those opportunities bring, before taxes, $1,760 a month. It means that you have the opportunity in metro Aurora to pay for a very modest one-bedroom apartment near Colfax and then find out you can’t eat, take the bus, get healthcare or come close to stimulating the retail economy.
Ask any American living the dream. It’s a nightmare.
Anyone who equates helping a homeless family find a safe place to live off the streets to a patronizing pat on the head should not be running the country’s program for housing America’s poorest and most downtrodden citizens. In fact, even Republican voters made clear Carson shouldn’t be running anything, but here we are.
So the answer Carson and Trump are proposing to help poor and would-be homeless Americans realize the dream?
Raise their rents.
That’s right. The New York Times busted Carson and Co. by outing their scheme to raise the rents for more than 700,000 poor Americans who depend on their low-income housing to keep them from living in their cars, if they’re lucky enough to have a car.
When pushed by reporters yesterday to talk about the story, Carson demurely echoed the boss by saying people should take anything they read in the New York Times with “a grain of salt.”
Straying from his boss’s tactics, however, he then admitted there is an apparently a salty plan in the works to raise 700,000 HUD rents.
Mind you now, the rent hikes for people so poor they can’t afford even the reduced rents they pay right now might not apply to handicapped and elderly renters, Carson said. They get to continue to enjoy the opportunity Team Trump has lavished them with.
It’s the deadbeat poor people who work two jobs or more and still can’t afford $2,400 for a three bedroom apartment who need to be taught a tough-love lesson. It’s good to raise the subsidized rents of poor people because they’re now enjoying the big, fat pay hikes they got from the Republican tax cuts for the rich. And that is what the American dream tastes like as served up by Carson and the Trump White House. Dreamy.
I don’t care if Carson thinks he’s making America great again for millions of poor people by telling them they can count on not getting a pat on the head from him and his boss, but surely someone in Congress can do something to keep this clown act from giving America’s most vulnerable citizens a kick in the teeth.
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