Former President Jimmy Carter says this country is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and something needs to be done about it.
In an interview with CNBC this week, Carter said the Trump administration is ignoring the situation and urged voters to take a stand.
“Low-income housing needs to be raised much higher as a priority for our country,” Carter said. “That’s the first step toward making people who are now dependent on government assistance, on welfare rolls, to get a good job and have a chance to raise their families and put their kids through school.”
Carter also called for a reform of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has taken a tougher stance on low-income housing subsidies under HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s guidance.
This year’s midterm elections offer voters the chance to speak up on an important issue, Carter said.
Affordable housing is an issue that Carter has long championed. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, 93, started Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in 1984. Through the program, he has helped renovate 4,300 homes in 14 countries.
Carter told CNBC that the distance between the rich and the poor is greater than ever before as the cost of homebuilding continues to rise and land is increasingly scarce.
But under Carson, HUD has proposed raising rent on the poorest public housing tenants and instituting work requirements for those who receive public housing subsidies in a bid to reduce assistance and combat what Carson has called a cycle of dependency.
Carter called this policy misguided.
“I don’t think that making people self-sufficient who are already in desperate need and who have never had a decent place to live is a good approach to low-income housing,” he said. “You can make people suffer longer by depriving them of adequate help.”
“The main thing that we have failed to do is to let people in general join in with Habitat and emphasize the need for low-income housing,” he said.