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'Welfare Reform 2.0' May Hit Mountain West Hard

Proposed "Making Affordable Housing Work Act of 2018"
Housing and Urban Development /
Proposed "Making Affordable Housing Work Act of 2018"

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's recent proposal to triple rent for the lowest income households is part of what’s being called "Welfare Reform 2.0." This change to federal assistance could have a big impact on our growing region.

Secretary Carson says the current system is broken and holds back the very people it’s supposed to be helping.

Tom Jacobson, with the Montana-based nonprofit, Rural Dynamics, sees things differently. He offers financial advice and affordable housing resources to low income people.

He says that in the more urban communities and growing communities we’re seeing a real strain on housing and so those prices are going up.

“We’re seeing many of our communities across the west grow at explosive rates,” Jacobson says. “But we are not seeing the wages keep up with that growth.”

Wage stagnation is hitting rural communities, as well which means they’re struggling too. But, Jacobson says, they unfortunately don’t have the same social services there to pick them up when they’re out in the street.

Ultimately, Carson’s proposal needs to be approved by Congress.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 91.5 KRCC. To see more, visit 91.5 KRCC.

Ali Budner is KRCC's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region. The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.