SOUTH BEND -- Melvyn Stone was homeless when he first moved to Indiana. Now, as a public housing resident, he doesn’t want his family to go back to that.
In Indiana, 156,300 people living in federal assisted housing could see their rents rise by an average of 23 percent, according to a new analysis conducted by the Associated Press and nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That includes 11,921 people in St. Joseph County.
The proposed hikes, which still need congressional approval, are part of a plan by Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to improve the federal agency’s finances and push low-income households to find more work, in an attempt to “give poor people a way out of poverty,” Carson recently told Fox News.
For Stone, a 29-year-old single father of four, rent increases could put his family out on the street. Currently, he’s unemployed and pays $58 a month for his apartment on South Bend Avenue. But under the new plan he would have to pay $150 a month.
“If it were to go up, it would be tough because I wouldn’t be able to stay home and take care of my babies,” Stone said. “My babies, they keep me going.”
Stone finds work on the side by working as a mover and helping with landscaping, but he said it’s not for lack of seeking out work that he’s still unemployed. If he were to get a job, he’d need to find childcare, another added expense, plus there would be the drawback of time away from his children.
“I need my babies in a settled, stable environment,” Stone said. “I want them raised with structure and order.”
The “Make Affordable Housing Work Act,” announced on April 25, would allow housing authorities to impose work requirements, increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay for their housing from 30 percent to 35 percent, and raise the minimum rent to $150 per month, up from the current $50. It would also eliminate deductions for children, and childcare and healthcare expenses.