Katrina Allows Homeless to Spare Huge Budget Cuts
It is a mixed bag today with the announcement of the HUD Budget and the impact on homeless people. Homeless direct funds were increased to $1.5 billion from FY 2006 level of $1.326 billion. Most of the increase will go to the current trend at HUD of funding Supportive Housing programs which serve people who have been homeless for long periods of time. We talked about this fantasy program before that sounds good, but the devil is in the details. Communities are told that "supportive housing" is the magic bullet and these programs should be the top priority, but the catch is that the cities have to figure out a place to find the services in supportive services. Bottom line is that with national attention focused on the hurricanes and the other homeless issues the homeless dollars were spared.
Section 8 tenant based rental assistance will get an increase of $500 million, which translates to about 1 and a half additional vouchers for Cleveland. At least its not a cut! There is a $600 million dollar increase for the HUD buildings, which only means that the program will continue, but not grow. Public Housing will get no increase. This is bad news since they have sustained so many cuts and costs have continued to increase. In effect this is going to really hurt all those programs that have put off maintenance and renovations hoping their ship would eventually come in.
The worst assault in the housing field is the CDBG cuts, which are going to devastate communities like Cleveland. We do not use much of this money for homeless programs in Cleveland, but it is used for neighborhood improvement. This program is slated for a $1.1 billion dollar cut or nearly a fourth of its total budget. This is part of the continued war on cities by the Administration. It is almost like they are punishing American cities for 25 years of voting Democrats into office with only a few exceptions. This budget has to be passed by Congress, and in an election year that is going to be real tough. The tension between those who want a balanced budget and those who want to show that they are solving problems will be interesting. The only losers in this type of debate is all of us.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.