Benjamin Carson in 2009
Photo: Bryan Bedder (Getty Images for the Jackie Robinson Foundation)

The more conspiracy sober-minded among us saw this coming a mile away—even if we had on Ben Carson’s thick glasses.

This is only a theory, mind you, but let’s take a walk down the rabbit hole, shall we?

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Let’s suppose that when Carson, a black man who spent his career as a neurosurgeon, was named head of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration, it wasn’t because he “grew up in the projects” (which turned out to be untrue).

Let’s suppose that the administration needed a willing black face to be the one to drive all of the black and brown people out of public housing. Housing that coincidentally, at least in places like New York City, nests atop some of the most prized real estate in the country.

Follow me: President Donald Trump is a real estate guy; that is how he made (and blew) his so-called fortune. If the poor can be driven out of subsidized housing by higher rents and work requirements, one could either privatize public housing where developers (like Trump and his cronies) can swoop in and make a mint, or just charge market rates and drive the poor into the sea, where they belong.

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Which is what gentrification via institutionalized racism (versus just plain ol’ centuries of white privilege) looks like.

The facts: On Wednesday, Carson will propose tripling the rent of low-income households as well as requiring those receiving any type of housing subsidies to work, according to a proposal reviewed by the Washington Post.

Uncle Ben is slated to give the call about an hour before an afternoon House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on rent reform.

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Via the Washington Post:

The move to overhaul how low-income rental subsidies are calculated would affect more than 4.5 million families relying on federal housing assistance. The proposal legislation would require congressional approval.

Currently, tenants generally pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent or a public housing agency minimum rent not to exceed $50. The administration’s legislative proposal sets the family monthly rent contribution at 35 percent of gross income or 35 percent of their earnings by working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage — or approximately $150 a month, three times higher than the current minimum.

The Trump administration has long signaled through its budget proposals and leaked draft legislation that it seeks to increase the rents low-income tenants pay to live in federally subsidized housing.

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HUD also seeks to change the deductions that could be considered when determining a tenant’s rent, eliminating deductions for medical and child care costs, as well as have tenants “shoulder more of their housing costs and provide an incentive to increase their earnings,” according to budget documents.

How or why anyone would think this makes good fiscal policy, when it is clear that most Americans are struggling with affordable housing, is beyond me. Unless there’s something far more sinister at play here.

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At the least, this is simply more of what Scrooge McTrump refers to as “welfare reform”—that is, to make any subsidy that anyone receives from the government as onerous and difficult as possible, especially for those who need the help the most.

And yet, under Trump’s new tax cuts, banks have saved $3.6 billion in the last quarter (not year, quarter!), which smells a lot like rich-people welfare.

So, in conclusion, let’s see how long it takes for the word “privatize” to come into the equation. I’ll give it six months.

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