A draft budget document obtained by CityLab would also raise rents for millions of people who receive housing aid, including the country’s most vulnerable residents.
The document, labeled as draft rent reforms with input from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and agency lawyers, would be part of the government’s effort to bring a new conservative ethos to federal assistance.
HUD would not confirm or deny the draft amendment, and referred inquiries to the Office of Management and Budget, which has not responded to a request for comment. The document sets forth line-by-line text changes to the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, the law that first established federal housing aid, plus adjustments to subsequent acts in 1959 and 1990.
The new rules under consideration would be the latest in a sweeping effort by the federal government to transform the social safety net. In January, the Trump administration said that it would allow states to establish work requirements for Medicaid. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in December that it would let states set new work requirements for people who receive food aid.
“It’s framed as a rent reform proposal, but this isn’t really about reform when you look at the specific proposals,” says Will Fischer, a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It isn’t clear that there’s any policy rationale behind this. If you work, they raise your rent. If you don’t work, they raise your rent. If you’re elderly, they raise your rent.”
At a time when homelessness is surging in some regions and cities are coming up short on affordable housing, assistance for low-income renters is under the gun. The tax bill passed by Congress in December undercut the value of tax credits that are key to building new affordable housing. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has proposed some $6 billion in budget cuts at HUD.
The work requirements are one of a number of amendments the draft proposes—including significantly higher rents for some 4 million households who receive assistance.