Ben Carson: The American dream is attainable with the help of HUD

Ben Carson: The American dream is attainable with the help of HUD
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The federal government provides housing assistance to our most vulnerable citizens and it is nothing new. America has put a roof over the heads of those in need for generations. The fact is we shouldn’t stop there, we should think about how we can help families move beyond their need for housing assistance by providing access to higher paying jobs. We should think beyond investing in monthly rent checks and begin thinking about investing long-term in people.

At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we are building on an old idea to increase economic opportunities for low and very low-income people living in areas that receive HUD funds.

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Annually, HUD spends billions of taxpayer dollars to help nearly 5 million households pay their rent. We spend billions more on affordable and senior housing developments across the country. All these taxpayer dollars create jobs. Shouldn’t the very people we serve and other low and very low-income people have a decent shot at those employment opportunities?

HUD is proposing to change the rules under a little understood part of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1968, called "Section 3." Section 3 is designed to ensure that low-income people, including those who benefit from HUD’s housing assistance, also benefit economically from the money HUD is spending in their communities.

The current, 1994, Section 3 rule is inefficient and outdated. After a thorough review, it’s clear to HUD (and others) that 25 years later, very few impoverished Americans are benefiting from the economic opportunities generated by HUD’s investment in their community. It’s as though the door to these jobs is open just slightly. We need that door to swing wide open.

The changes we are proposing are intended to swing that door wide open by encouraging public housing authorities and others to focus on career ladders and long-term hiring, not temporary jobs that pay little and lead nowhere. Likewise, we are significantly streamlining the Section 3 process and paperwork.

The changes we are proposing also reduce regulatory burden by aligning Section 3 reporting with standard business practices and payroll tracking. We’re streamlining processes and focusing on jobs, not paperwork. For those meeting outcome benchmarks, the proposed rule reduces reporting requirements. We want to make sure the reporting requirements do not take time away from the employment HUD is supporting.

Additionally, the rule addresses the challenge of tracking Section 3 activities when there are multiple funding sources. This change will make it easier for HUD grantees to focus on Section 3 employment opportunities during the planning phase.

Why the change? We are focused on creating sustained employment for low-income Americans — providing more opportunity for the vulnerable communities we have a responsibility to support and providing people with marketable skills that can provide mobility and economic freedom. 

America’s economy is flourishing. Under President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE’s leadership, the American people are witnessing sustained job growth, historically low unemployment and a historically strong national economy. It is our common challenge to make sure every American can share in the gains we have experienced over the past two years. For too many, the American dream is a pipe dream, but I don’t believe that. With the help of a more efficient and effective Section 3 rule, more people will come to see that they too can achieve their American dream.

Dr. Benjamin Carson, M.D., is the secretary at United States Housing and Urban Development.