Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) plans to take to the streets of Washington on Wednesday to add to pressure from mayors for President Trump to protect federal investment in affordable housing.
Warren is headlining a protest march against Trump's proposal to slash $6.2 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, less than two weeks after a dozen mayors signed on to a letter warning that the proposed budget cuts could shut down public housing units.
Warren, who for years has railed against Wall Street and an economic system rigged against the poor and working class, will address low-income tenants and housing activists from across the nation.
“I want to make sure that affordable housing is front and center on our agenda of items to be protected,” Warren said in an interview Tuesday evening. “We can’t just let this one fly below the radar screen.”
With Democrats sidelined in Congress, Warren and other liberals don’t hold much control over the purse strings. Their only avenue appears to be trying to sway public opinion to influence lawmakers.
“We don’t have the votes. That’s why it’s important to raise our voices,” Warren said.
Renata Pumarol, deputy director of New York Communities for Change, said she hopes the protest will spark a tenant movement. She wants to “force members of Congress to stand against these cuts or they will be facing the consequences in 2018.”
“This is a war on the poor,” Pumarol said. “First health care, and now he’s going after the federal subsidies that house the most vulnerable Americans across the country.”
Trump’s proposed cuts would gut funding for affordable housing and neighborhood improvements. Hundreds of thousands of families could lose federal housing assistance.
The Trump administration said the cuts were necessary because the programs have not proven themselves effective, and that state and local governments — as well as charities and the private sector — should play a greater role in community revitalization and economic development.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson has said the administration will “vigorously pursue new approaches to help work-eligible households achieve self-sufficiency.”
Warren said she plans to highlight the Trump administration's decision to subsidize big investors such as private equity giant Blackstone Group at the expense of the poor.
“Who does this administration want to help?” Warren said. “While they are talking about a $6 billion cut to HUD, this administration handed out a $1 billion government guarantee to Blackstone so they would be able to finance the purchase of more property. That means taxpayer money is being used to help out one of Wall Street’s worst landlords.”
Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage company, announced days after Trump’s inauguration that it would back $1 billion in debt guaranteed by Blackstone rental homes.