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OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas

May 3, 2018

Last week, Ben Carson, President Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, unveiled a proposal to triple rents for the poorest families and take housing assistance away from unemployed and underemployed workers. This announcement comes amid a nationwide affordable housing crisis: In no state in the U.S. can a minimum wage worker earning $7.25 afford even a one-bedroom apartment at market rent.

Meanwhile, just 1 in 5 eligible low-income families receive help from the nation’s already massively underfunded housing assistance programs, leaving others paying 50, 60, 70 percent of their incomes on rent — while they languish on years, sometimes decades-long waitlists. Many end up facing eviction.

A new dataset produced by sociologist and Evicted author Matthew Desmond and his team at the Eviction Lab shines staggering new light on the scale and scope of the eviction epidemic. Cities such as Richmond, Virginia, face annual eviction rates as high as 1 in 9 households. Meanwhile, an exhibit at the National Building Museum based on Desmond’s book brings the issue to life.
This week on Off-Kilter, to help Ben Carson — and the rest of us — get up to speed on the reality of America’s affordable housing crisis, which his proposal would put on steroids, Rebecca speaks with two people working to fight eviction in very different ways.

But first, Jeremy Slevin, aka The Slevinator, returns from his brush with the bubonic plague with the news of the week, In Case You Missed It.