Saturday, April 09, 2005

Hacking Away at Housing for the Poor

New York Times editorial today....Killing Off Housing for the Poor

The Bush administration pays lip service to the goal of "ending chronic homelessness" - while undermining the very programs that keep poor people from ending up in the streets. The Housing and Urban Development Department is proposing unreasonable cuts in federal subsidies, which would make it harder for underfinanced housing authorities to keep their developments livable and safe. And a proposal in Congress would make it harder for the poor to get rental subsidies from Section 8, the public-private partnership that underwrites rents for nearly two million of the country's low-income families and encourages builders to develop affordable housing.

This meat-ax approach has to stop. Congress needs to understand that poor people won't just disappear when the housing that serves them dries up.

The problem appears to have gotten the attention of the Senate, where bipartisan support is coalescing around a proposal for a national housing trust fund that would set aside a small portion of the pretax profits from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Modeled on similar mechanisms that have worked well at the state and local levels, the federal version would be used to build, preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing all over the country.

Given the need, it makes sense to plow money from housing right back into the same area. The trust fund proposal deserves wide support. In the meanwhile, the administration should stop hacking away at housing for the poor.

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