(City Journal) -- President-elect Donald Trump has selected Ben Carson as his pick to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If confirmed, Carson will inherit an agency operating many programs that he’s likely to take issue with. Public housing is a paramount example of the long-term government dependency Carson decried during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. In New York City, home of the nation’s largest public-housing program, the average resident has spent 22 years living in a subsidized home. Reforming the culture of public housing will require skill and commitment. There are, however, some policies that Carson could implement quickly to begin the process of transforming America’s public-housing system from a modern poorhouse into a vehicle for upward mobility.
Time Limits for Public and Voucher Housing: Sending a signal to new subsidized tenants that they shouldn’t expect lifetime housing support—to which they are entitled at present—would be the best way to change the culture of public housing. A time limit, moreover, is not fanciful. As a result of discretion permitted by the Moving to Work demonstration program, eight public-housing authorities have already adopted time limits, with promising results. In San Bernardino, California, incomes among those subject to a five-year time limit—call it short-term assistance if that sounds more compassionate—rose by more than 12 percent since 2008. Employment rates among those in the time-limited program rose by 17 percent.