Sunday, March 11, 2007

Are We Ending Homelessness Yet?

Here’s a question. How can the federal government claim to be ending homelessness while every year it cuts funding to housing and other programs that serve the poor?

Quick answer: A.) because the numbers are complicated enough to easily lie about, and B.) people who should know better let them get away with it.

Last month, the President sent his FY08 budget to Congress, and it includes what amounts to an 8% reduction in HUD funding from what are likely to be FY07 levels.

What does this mean? I think Barney Frank said it best in his statement: "It is now clear the President is choosing to cut assistance to those in need and resources to our cities and communities in order to finance the tax cuts and the war in Iraq."

It also means that, if this request stands, public housing operating funds will be around 15% short of what is actually needed. It means that CDBG funds for a range of poor people’s programs will be cut by 20%. It means that housing funds for elderly and disabled people will be cut. It means that funding for Section 8 housing vouchers will be cut and there will be a rule change to make them harder to count.

But, on the bright side, there’s another $117 million in Homeless Assistance Grants. Are we ending homelessness yet?

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