Trump's shutdown could get people kicked out of their homes


Millions of vulnerable Americans may be about to pay the price for Trump's incompetence.

As Trump's government shutdown enters its third week with no end in sight, millions of low-income Americans who rely on housing assistance are now at risk of being kicked out of their homes.

On January 4, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent a letter to 1,500 landlords who participate in federal housing assistance programs, urging them not to evict tenants now that funding has lapsed due to the shutdown.

But according to The Washington Post, officials at HUD didn't know that many of those tenants are covered by a federal program that expired on January 1 — and since the government is shut down, HUD can't renew the program's funding.

Now, HUD officials are "scouring for money" and tapping into reserve funds in what is being described as a "last-minute effort to prevent the eviction of thousands of tenants" due to Trump's government shutdown.

While some rental assistance programs can remain operational by using funds that have already been appropriated, much of that funding would lapse if the government shutdown continues. Millions of tenants would be at risk of getting kicked out of their homes if the shutdown drags on into February.

And that's not the only problem facing vulnerable Americans who rely on HUD for housing assistance.

According to NBC News, about 95 percent of HUD employees have been furloughed due to the shutdown. The only employees allowed to work are those needed for emergency situations that pose "an imminent threat to the safety of human life or the protection of property."

As a result, many routine HUD activities have been put on hold, including mandatory health and safety inspections of HUD-funded properties for low-income Americans, as well as elderly persons and people with disabilities.

"It’s been devastating — we have families and kids with asthma living where the mold situation is out of control," said Cori Mackey, the executive director of Christian Activities Council, a Connecticut-based social justice group.

Just last week, the floor collapsed at a HUD-funded property in Connecticut that had been waiting for months for an inspection. When the floorboards were lifted for repair, the area underneath was "covered in black mold," Mackey told NBC News.

But Trump and his administration didn't consider any of these potential consequences when they dove headfirst into a government shutdown. In fact, they didn't even know what consequences they should be considering — because no one in the administration understood what would actually happen during a shutdown.

As The Washington Post reported on Friday, White House officials only started to understand "the breadth of the potential impact" late last week — two weeks after the shutdown began.

It's hard to know which is worse: The Trump administration's cruelty, or its incompetence.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.