No compassion in housing proposal


Geraldine Sealey
September 22, 2004 6:36PM (UTC)

Funny, we didn't hear any of the Republicans who used New York City as the backdrop of their convention last month talking about the administration's plans to force poor families to either pay hundreds of dollars in extra rent or go homeless. But we're sure George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg, and Rudy Giuliani are going to talk to their Republican friends in Washington and take care of this pronto.

From the Times:

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"The Bush administration has proposed reducing the value of subsidized-housing vouchers given to poor residents in New York City next year, with even bigger cuts planned for some urban areas in New England. The proposal is based on a disputed new formula that averages higher rents in big cities with those of suburban areas, which tend to have lower costs."

"The proposals could have a 'significantly detrimental impact' in some areas by forcing poor families to pay hundreds of extra dollars per month in rent, according to United States Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican. That extra burden could be too much for thousands of tenants, 'potentially leaving them homeless,' Mr. Shays wrote in a recent letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development."

"The changes would affect most of the 1.9 million families who participate in the Section 8 program, the government's primary housing program for the poor, including 110,000 in New York City. People in the program receive vouchers to help them rent private apartments from landlords who agree to participate. For a four-bedroom apartment in New York City, HUD has proposed that the fair market rent be reduced from $1,504 a month to $1,286, a drop of more than 14 percent. For practical purposes, that means that a tenant must find an extra $218 to stay in that apartment, or else find something cheaper."

To put this into perspective, Bush's HUD is trying to nickel and dime poor families, potentially forcing them out into the street, while rich people are enjoying their average tax cuts of $78,460, enough to buy a home in most communities. Once again, Bush proves he's not a "compassionate" conservative. And once again under his administration, it's the poor who are getting screwed.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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