Fact-Check: Trump Policies Duckworth Cited Haven’t Hurt Housing Access — Yet

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth blasted President Donald Trump for a series of policies she said have exacerbated the nation’s homelessness crisis. But none of the plans she cited have been implemented, a point she acknowledged on social media following our inquiry.

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Responding to news President Donald Trump is considering cracking down on homelessness in California, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth blasted his administration for a series of policies she said have exacerbated the problem.

Trump, who has called the state’s burgeoning homelessness crisis “a disgrace,” sent officials to Los Angeles last week to find ways to limit the growing number of people living on the streets there.

On Monday, Duckworth re-tweeted a link to a New York Times article about the administration’s efforts, adding her take:

“Just a quick reminder that Trump & @HUDgov have actually *worsened* our nation's homelessness crisis,” Duckworth wrote, followed by a list of policy actions she claimed had been taken by the administration, including cuts to affordable housing programs, allowing shelters to refuse people based on gender identity or sexual orientation, evicting immigrant families of mixed legal status from subsidized housing and raising rents on low-income individuals.

Trump has indeed proposed changes that match what Duckworth described. Each has been widely criticized for the risk they pose to housing access for some of the nation’s most vulnerable residents.

But none of his proposed policy changes have yet been enacted, and Congress is moving forward with a budget that does not include the steep cuts to housing the president wanted.

Trump — who argued people living on the streets have ruined the “prestige” of Los Angeles and San Francisco — has rejected appeals from local officials for more funding to address the issue. He has also said the EPA will issue an environmental notice against San Francisco to address the problem.

After we contacted Duckworth’s office for an explanation, she responded to her original tweet with another within hours. In it, she wrote that she “should have said they had *tried* to do these four things” but that Trump and his administration “have not yet succeeded, despite repeated efforts.”

Still, we wanted to set the record straight for those who haven’t seen Duckworth’s correction and provide some background on the proposals she cited. Here’s our recap:

‘Cutting programs for affordable housing’ and ‘raising rent’

Trump’s 2020 budget proposed deep cuts for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that called for slashing funds for programs that help low-income people access housing. The proposal was widely described as a nonstarter in Congress, where it met bipartisan disapproval among lawmakers.

This summer, Congress passed a budget to allow for higher levels of government spending with Trump’s support. Lawmakers have not yet finalized the appropriations bills, but advocates we spoke with no longer anticipate housing cuts.

The president's budget was rejected in similar fashion last year. After lawmakers made clear they did not intend to approve Trump’s proposed cuts, HUD Secretary Ben Carson backed off a plan announced that April to increase rent on millions of federal housing assistance recipients.

The proposed legislation called for tripling the rent paid by some of the nation’s poorest households, with minimum rates rising from $50 to $150. Even though it was presented when Republicans held majorities in both the House and Senate, lawmakers have shown little interest in advancing it.

‘Allowing shelters to refuse LGBTQ+ people’ and ‘evicting mixed-status immigrants’

Earlier this year, Trump also proposed federal rule changes to limit housing for the poor. While they do not require congressional approval, the administration cannot greenlight them without undergoing a lengthy review process, which has not yet been completed.

In May, the administration proposed rolling back Obama-era protections that prevent federally funded homeless shelters from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. If Trump’s plan is approved, it could allow single-sex shelters to deny services to transgender people.

Also this spring, the White House introduced a plan to remove undocumented immigrants and their families from public housing, which a HUD analysis determined could displace more than 55,000 children who are legal U.S. residents or citizens. Current rules prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies unless their child or spouse is eligible. Landlords and local housing officials have voiced concern over the proposal, which may face legal challenges.

Housing advocates oppose both proposals, along with another Trump plan they argue would make it more difficult to allege housing discrimination in lawsuits under the civil rights-era Fair Housing Act.

Our ruling

Following news Trump is considering cracking down on homelessness in California, Duckworth claimed the president and his housing department have “worsened our nation’s homelessness crisis” by cutting affordable housing programs, allowing shelters to refuse people based on gender identity, evicting immigrant families of mixed legal status from subsidized housing and raising rents on people who receive federal housing assistance.

The president’s administration has issued a series of proposals to that effect. But Trump has not yet succeeded in making any of the changes Duckworth described, a point she publicly acknowledged following our inquiry.

We rate her claim Mostly False.


MOSTLY FALSE – The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

Sources

“Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California,” New York Times, Sept. 10, 2019

Tweet, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Sept. 16, 2019

Communications with Duckworth’s press office, Sept. 17, 2019

Tweet, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Sept. 17, 2019

“Congress' Fall To-Do List: Guns, Spending, Drug Prices, Trade, Investigations,” NPR, Sept. 9, 2019

Statement: Budget Deal Averts Troubling Threats, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 22, 2019

“Carson backs off plan to triple rents for poorest households,” Politico, June 8, 2018

“HUD Unveils Plan To Increase Rent On Millions Receiving Federal Housing Assistance,” NPR, April 25, 2018

Legislation draft, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, April 25, 2018

“Homeless shelters could deny transgender people under proposed Trump administration rule,” USA Today, May 23, 2019

Proposed rule, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Spring 2019

Proposed rule, Federal Register, May 10, 2019

“HUD says 55,000 children could be displaced under Trump plan to evict undocumented immigrants,” Washington Post, May 10, 2019

“Housing Authorities Reel as HUD Singles Out Undocumented Immigrants,” Pew, May 23, 2019

Proposed rule, Federal Register, Aug. 19, 2019

“A New Trump Rule Could Weaken A Civil Rights Era Housing Discrimination Law,” NPR, July 31, 2019

Phone interview: Noëlle Porter and Renee Williams, director of government affairs and staff attorney at National Housing Law Project, Sept. 19, 2019

Phone interview: Hannah Lieberman and Catherine Cone, legal director and counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Sept. 19, 2019

Phone interview: Sarah Mickelson, senior director of public policy at National Low Income Housing Coalition, Sept. 19, 2019