September 10, 2019

Cortez Masto Questions Carson and Mnuchin About Administration’s Failure to Address Affordable Housing Crisis

Housing Finance Reform Hearing

Washington, D.C. – At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) questioned HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the Trump Administration’s proposal to gut the Housing Trust Fund, which provides millions of dollars for affordable housing in Nevada and across the country. She also debunked some of their claims about the causes of the affordable housing crisis and expressed support for manufactured housing as one solution to address the shortage.

“In Nevada, outside of the cost of health care, [affordable housing] is the number one issue…I’ve had roundtable discussions for the last two years in our urban and rural areas. If you don't know anything about Nevada, know that of the 17 counties, 15 are rural. And I can tell you right now, rent control is not causing the affordable housing crisis in Nevada. In fact, Nevada does not have any type of laws that mandate rent control. And it's my understanding, there's actually five states that have rent control. I'd also like to point out that, yes, streamlining state and local permitting and improving local zoning will help, but it will not solve the problem and it is not the main impact to the affordable housing issue in our state. I can promise you this around those affordable housing roundtables that I've had local and state government and have been at the table with our private sector, as well as so many other people and some of the folks that work for you as well,” Senator Cortez Masto explained.

She continued, “So please know that I am looking for answers, and I think we can come together to address this issue if we work together. But let me start, Secretary Carson, with you. I'm curious, does HUD support the continuation of the Housing Trust Fund?”

Secretary Carson said HUD supports the Housing Fund but would like to provide the agency and local jurisdictions with more flexibility, prompting the Senator to press for details and ask how these policy changes would affect the $3 million or more each state receives to address the housing needs of extremely low-income families. The Secretary was unable to provide any answers.

“I absolutely agree that this needs to be addressed, but we've got to have substance. We have to have details, and that's what we're looking for,” replied Senator Cortez Masto. 

Secretary Mnuchin noted that the Administration would be willing to consider more funding for affordable housing through a “more efficient and accountable mechanism.”

Later, Senator Cortez Masto and Secretary Carson discussed the importance of manufactured housing, with the HUD Secretary touting advances in the industry and the prevalence of manufactured homes among single-family units. The Senator pressed Carson to commit to uphold consumer protections for manufactured homebuyers.

“Let me ask you this, can you agree to preserve the protections for manufactured housing as we move through this process of looking at various changes?” asked the Senator.

“We will preserve them and expand on them as necessary,” replied Carson.

Full video is of this exchange is available here.