Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Economic Woes Taking Toll on Public Housing

The 2011 federal budget imposed serious budget cuts on public housing programs.  HUD's Community Development Fund program, money used to redevelop poverty-stricken neighborhoods, took a $942 million hit.  Congress slashed the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a federal block grant program, by $215 million.  Additionally, some veterans housing programs, Indian housing grants, and housing counseling programs all lost funds.

The effects of all those cuts are now beginning to bubble up in communities around the country.  Here's an illustrative stroy from Pittsburgh:

That's because public housing agencies, which put roofs over the heads of 31,438 households in the Pittsburgh region, have gotten word that funding from Washington is about to plunge to levels last seen during some of the thriftiest years of President George W. Bush's administration. President Barack Obama, after fully funding public housing during his first two budgets, is now asking authorities nationwide to absorb steep cuts by drawing down their savings accounts and putting off major repairs.


What's odd about this budget is that housing authorites that have worked diligently to save money for  reconstruction projects will face larger funding cuts.  This gets the incentives all wrong.  Going forward, why would any place want to plan well and be a good stewards of public resources.  If you burn the money immediately, nobody can take it from you.
Steve Clowney


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