Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform are demanding more information related to the conflicts of interest posed by Donald Trump’s part ownership of Starrett City, a federally subsidized, low-income apartment complex in East New York.
Trump owns a 4 percent stake in Starrett City thanks to his father, developer Fred Trump, who made a career out of building projects with government support, and who invested in the construction of the Brooklyn complex in question. Opened in 1974, Starrett City is the country’s largest federally subsidized rental development with more than 3,500 apartments. It is funded through a direct subsidy to its owners, as opposed to voucher programs, with residents paying 30 percent of their income towards rent and the feds picking up the rest of the tab.
On his recently released disclosure forms, Trump says he made $5 million in rental income from January 2016 to April as part-owner. The income, tied as it is directly to federal policy that Trump can now dictate, is one of the starker examples of the many conflicts of interest that exist in the vast business holdings that he refuses to divest from.
As it happens, the president’s proposed budget calls for large cuts to public housing and voucher programs, but keeps funding for privately owned low-income housing subsidies basically static, cutting only $65 million from the $10.8 billion program.
Experts who spoke to the Washington Post, which first spotlighted the issue late last month, said that the budget isn’t necessarily motivated by self-dealing, noting that Trump has a lot of other income streams, and that other landlords benefiting from the program could make a politically formidable stink about reductions that directly impact their bottom line.