The ‘Good Doctor’ Wants You Dead

Why does it seem like Dr. Ben Carson is trying to get rid of the people he’s taken oaths* to serve?

HEAR US “Kydz” in front of HUD’s concrete fortress. Photo by Diane Nilan

What happened to that oath* he swore upon becoming a doctor? The “do no harm” concept? Or the oath* taken when he accepted his current position, like other cabinet secretaries, hand on a sacred Bible, swearing to God allegiance to our Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Ben Carson, son of a poor, single mother, rose to the ranks of a reportedly respected neurosurgeon, presidential candidate, and now directs our nation’s housing agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. He, like other cabinet appointees of this disastrous administration, has wasted no time dismantling and destroying anything and everything reflecting the department’s purpose, a department ostensibly created to serve housing needs of poor and disabled people.

Let me be clear. I’ve never been a HUD fan, though I’ve tried back when Andrew Cuomo headed the agency. I’ve written grants for HUD money, ran HUD-funded shelters, protested HUD cuts, and continue to advocate for HUD to change their unenlightened ways to help homeless kids. (You can help this effort. www.helphomelesskidsnow.org)

Having worked in the area of homelessness for the past 3 decades, I’ve seen the need for a strong housing policy (with the resources to back it up), and fumed at the dysfunction that occurs when local HUD-funded and regulated housing agencies seemingly reflect the ugliness happening at the top. But when Dr. Ben took over, he promised an entirely different model:

And you’re going to see, I think, a very substantial change in the opinion of a lot of people when they see results as opposed to rhetoric that we normally have with political administrations... Surgeons get things done. They don’t sit around and talk about it all the time. The patient would be dead by that time.

The flack about the $31,000 table, his family’s, um, helping him do his job, well, that’s different.

What most people don’t know about housing for income-challenged Americans is voluminous.

Diane Yentel, president/CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, pointed out:

Out of 3,000 counties in the U.S., there are only 12 where a person working full-time at minimum wage can afford a decent one-bedroom apartment.

Nationally, there is a shortage of 7.2 million homes that are affordable and available to the lowest income people; for every 100 of the lowest income renters, there are just 35 affordable homes available to them.

HUD’s rental housing programs are chronically underfunded. As a result, only one in four low income households in need of assistance receives any. The rest wait years, sometimes decades hoping to win what is essentially a housing lottery.

…nearly 8 million extremely low income renters are paying more than half of their income on rent.

Nowhere to go. Where does a person go when tired, sick? Photo by Diane Nilan

To no surprise, millions of households impacted by poverty are at great risk of homelessness. But don’t worry! HUD reports to Congress that our nation has a relatively small number of homeless persons, 500,000 or so.

No matter that HUD’s long-criticized method of counting homeless people, the infamous “PIT” (point-in-time) count is, to say the least, misleading according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s Don’t Count on It report.

Unfortunately, the methods used by HUD to conduct the PIT counts produce a significant undercount of the homeless population at a given point in time. In addition, regardless of their methodology or execution, point in time counts fail to account for the transitory nature of homelessness and thus present a misleading picture of the crisis.

The report goes on at length to document how huge — millions — segments of the homeless population don’t get counted/reported at all, you know, like families, youth, and adults not staying outside the overtaxed shelter “system,” who often end up as homeless adults after extended experiences of having nowhere to live.

Spend 20-minutes listening to kids talking about homelessness and what school means to them in the HEAR US video My Own Four Walls.

So we don’t have much homelessness, at least according to HUD (since they started counting, back in the early 90s). Nonetheless, Dr. Carson has been bouncing hither-and-yon, including to my state of Illinois, visiting communities, wreaking havoc, and doing a damn fine job of homelessness creation.

His plan to shutter HUD-funded housing complexes drew the wrath of IL Senator Tammy Duckworth:

“It is unacceptable for HUD to make yet another rash decision that uproots dozens of families from their homes without providing a detailed explanation, especially after Donald Trump promised throughout his campaign to help communities exactly like Cairo and Thebes….”

The doctor recently took things to a more drastic level, as described by Yentel:

Carson proposes raising rents on families living in poverty from 30 percent of their adjusted income to 35 percent of their gross income. This move will not, as he claims, increase ‘self-sufficiency.’ For households living paycheck to paycheck, an average rent increase of $117 a month means less money for groceries, medications, childcare, and other basic needs, let alone investments in their futures, including education and training. Moreover, the elimination of income deductions for childcare costs will actually make it harder for families to work…

… Carson proposed decimating funding for many housing programs, including those that provide rental assistance to low income people, and eliminating others, like those that repair long-neglected public housing or build and preserve rental units for those with the lowest incomes.

Nice.

Let‘s look at what this will mean to a couple of people I know.

“Marge,” a wheelchair-bound senior with debilitating physical and mental health issues, relies on social security for income after working her whole life as a professional journalist. She was fortunate enough to move into a handicapped-accessible HUD-funded housing unit. The stress caused by these proposed raises to her rent has pushed her, understandably, to a level of anxiety that has almost totally immobilized her. Even if it won’t apply to her, she knows plenty of people in her building who will be severely impacted.

“Tricia,” a mother of 2 girls who just escaped homelessness about a year ago, now looks at her public housing apartment with dread. Imagine being rescued after being trapped for years in a swamp that expected sexual favors in return for housing, being placed safely on the shore, and then a cruel monster comes threatening to push you back into the quicksand.

I could go on and on…(Curious? Hop over to my HEAR US video page and watch a few of my short films.)

Millions of families and individuals (data for states and national housing assistance) receiving at least a semblence of HUD housing assistance feel their debilitated worlds being rocked by the seismic changes occurring because of this nation’s desire to bulk up the wealth of the wealthiest while ravaging the all-too-fragile worlds of the lowest income households.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the administration’s spate of decisions — shredding

Home sweet homeless. Photo by Diane Nilan

Toss in rent hikes, home heating assistance cuts, education budget slashing, and on and on…all of this because Congress decided that the ultra-wealthy needed more money.

Those who will be ravaged by cuts to assistance programs, including many who cast their votes for this draconian administration, might ponder this assessment of the aftermath of the tax cut vote.

To pursue such a plan after approving massive tax breaks for the wealthy is obscene. To do so while pretending to be the champion of working people is perverse.

Makes you wonder about that oath our elected officials took as they stepped into their duties to uphold the Constitution.

Photo by Diane Nilan

Founder/pres. HEAR US Inc., gives voice & visibility to homeless families & youth, ran shelters, advocate, filmmaker, author, 15 yrs. on US backroads.

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