Thursday, March 10, 2011

Federal Housing Cuts Decried

Several housing assistance nonprofits criticized a proposal to make deep cuts into federal housing programs outside Pittsburgh Council Chambers today.

The groups say the most pressing issue in the budget passed by the House is a 62% decrease in Community Development Block Grants. Pennsylvania Community Reinvestment Group Chair Aggie Brose says that would translate to a drop of at least $1.2 million in Pittsburgh alone, where CDBG funding helps rebuild neighborhoods.

“The Federal Hill project in the Central North Side took a blighted commercial strip and major transit corridor, and through investment in strategic demolition and infrastructure is attracting more than $10 million in private market investment,” says Brose.

Larry Swanson of ACTION-Housing says while CDBG funding is the core concern, two other housing programs are facing even greater cuts of 70% -- the 811 program for seniors and the 202 program for the disabled. Swanson says cuts that deep would effectively kill the national programs.

The nonprofits say the drop in federal support will compound with state-level cuts, and will ultimately deny essential services to those in need.

The budget bill is now in the mainly Democratic Senate, which may temper several of the housing cuts.

The activists toted signs reading “Housing = Jobs” and “Homes Are Not Discretionary,” standing outside Council Chambers in support of a bill to reform CDBG distribution in Pittsburgh.

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