[URBANTH-L]NEWS: Bush Declares War on Homeless, Low-Income Tenants

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Thu Feb 8 15:09:21 EST 2007

Bush Declares War on Homeless, Low-Income Tenants

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron
February 7, 2007

Blunted thus far in his efforts to expand America's war
to Iran, President Bush has found a target closer to
home: America's homeless and low-income tenants. The
Bush budget plan for fiscal year 2008 announced on
February 6 slashes key low-income housing programs,
while increasing America's mammoth defense budget by
11%---an increase that does not include funding for the
Iraq war. It will again be up to Congress to not only
stop the cuts, but to achieve the long overdue budget
increases necessary to stop the worsening of the
nation's homeless and housing crisis.

While the Bush Administration sends public relations
staff like Phil Mangano around the country touting
plans to end chronic homelessness, the President
continues efforts to cut housing programs for the poor.
The new Bush budget plan would reduce the vital Project
Based Rental Assistance Program, which currently funds
about 1.2 million project based subsidies, by $163
million. Public Housing funding would be cut by nearly
$400 million.

While the budget for the Section 8 Housing Choice
Voucher program would rise by approximately one half of
one percent or about $80 million. This is far less than
would be needed to keep the program operating at its
existing level, since increases in annual rent payments
to landlords will clearly exceed that amount.

This means that despite all evidence that Section 8
housing is critical for getting families out of
homelessness, the Bush Administration seeks to reduce
the number of families served by the program.

In announcing his budget, Bush said it reflected his
chief priority of 'protecting Americans.' That term
appears to only apply to American military personnel,
not low-income families whose health, education, and
futures are threatened by homelessness.

While the budget increases funding for homeless
assistance programs by $120 million, homeless advocates
recognize that this increase is greatly outweighed by
cuts to affordable housing programs. According to Nan
Roman, president of the National Alliance to End
Homelessness, "increasing access to affordable housing
is the key component to ending homelessness nationwide.
Without increases in affordable housing, community
efforts to end homelessness are doomed to failure."

Of particular concern to many San Francisco nonprofits
is Bush's proposed $736 million cut to the Community
Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). San Francisco's
CDBG program funds a wide spectrum of critical housing,
education and community development services.

To show you how far America's budget has moved
rightward in the past three decades, Richard Nixon's
1972 re-election campaign highlighted the fact that
'for the first time in 20 years we are spending more on
human resources than defense.' Nixon was a big booster
of the CDBG program, which was enacted during his
presidency and began in 1974.

The CDBG program's decimation began with Ronald Reagan,
but the program proved so popular with Republican
mayors---the money is allocated by local governments--
that it survived. But the same president who has
allocated over $20 billion for community development in
Iraq has consistently opposed providing adequate
funding to improve America's low-income neighborhoods.

Bush's budget even cuts housing for the elderly
(Section 202) by $160 million, and housing for people
with Disabilities (Section 811) by $112 million.
Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA)
would rise by $14 million, an amount barely sufficient
to fund this unmet need in California.

And the man who ran in 2000 as a 'compassionate
conservative' proposes to cut funding for the Emergency
Food and Shelter Program, Health Care for the Homeless,
and Grants for the Benefit of Homeless
Individuals/Treatment for Homeless.

After making great progress on winning political
support for increased federal housing funding in the
last years of the Clinton Administration, the Bush
Administration has again pushed housing and
homelessness off the national radar screen. While the
Democratic Congress will likely defeat the worst of the
budget cuts, keeping the status quo while millions are
ill-housed or homeless in America is an unfortunate if
unavoidable goal.

For a complete list of Bush budget proposals for
homelessness-related programs, go to

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