Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), toured a homeless women’s center on Los Angeles’s infamous Skid Row Tuesday as part of a fact-finding mission aimed at tackling homelessness and providing job training for inner-city communities throughout the United States.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Carson also stopped by a faith-based drug treatment residential center in Echo Park after his visit to Skid Row.
“I can’t imagine how anybody could walk through an area like this and not have their heartstrings tugged,” Carson told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times.
However, the HUD secretary is also under fire for the Trump administration’s proposal to raise public housing rents.
“There is one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson said in a call with reporters about a tripling on the cap on rent for the poorest families, according to the Washington Post. “The current system isn’t working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.”
He reportedly added, “Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households. It’s clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.”
Another proposal by the Trump administration would increase rents by 5 percent.
Ali Alshuailat, who lives in a housing project in Pacoima told local ABC affiliate ABC 7, “Going up five percent is not a compassionate way because a lot of people here, it’s really hard for them to make it a day. They go day by day. And these people want to come in and raise it.”
In a conference call with reporters, Carson reportedly said his proposal would encourage the 4.5 million who benefit from HUD programs to look for higher-paying jobs.
Others have suggested it will only exacerbate the city’s homelessness epidemic.