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Washington, DC – A report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that over 35,000 families in California risk losing the housing assistance they count on due to cuts made in the President Bush’s 2005 budget. Members of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation called on their Republican colleagues today to stop these cuts in funding for the “Section 8” housing program in President Bush’s 2005 budget proposal. The Republican leadership is scheduled to bring their FY05 budget resolution to the floor next week.
“Over 1,000 families in Santa Clara County alone could face eviction based on these cuts,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “Scaling back housing funding would have a devastating impact on the families and the landlords who depend on it and will further depress the California economy. This is a clear example of President Bush’s economic priorities that increase deficit spending while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest and pushing the less privileged into an economic disaster.”
“The Central Valley simply doesn't have the resources to handle the effects of cuts that are this deep, especially with housing prices skyrocketing in our region,” said Representative Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced). “We already have enough economic challenges in the Valley. The last thing we want is hundreds of families roaming the streets.”
“As the Representative of one of the neediest districts in California, I am appalled at what we are seeing here today," said Representative Joe Baca (D-Rialto). “This Administration is dangerous. Under the Administration's plan, the San Bernardino Housing Agency alone would lose over $6 million in 2005 and $16 million in 2009 in funding for low income, elderly and disabled family housing in my area. We need to put a stop to this 'only the rich survive' machine.”
“The Center on Budget Priorities' report shows that the Bush Administration is trying to pass the buck and the blame for public housing shortfalls to our local public housing authorities by crippling the federal Section 8 budget,” said Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). How can the Bush Administration argue that they are trying to help all people live in safe, affordable housing while in my district alone, they will reduce the Section 8 budget by over $28 million, kick-out at least 2100 families currently in the Section 8 program, and increase Section 8 rents by over $1500 per family? Those numbers are shameful and will ultimately hurt the families working the hardest to survive.”
“At a time of persistent unemployment, we need more housing assistance, rather than more homelessness,” said Representative Brad Sherman (D-Los Angeles) a member of the House Financial Services Committee. “The President's budget for Section 8 demonstrates the rise of uncompassionate conservatism.”
As of July 2003, it is estimated that California had almost 300,000 current authorized vouchers used by low-income families with children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. Cuts to the program would put Section 8 vouchers at risk for more than 35,000 California families, which amounts to over $300 million in lost funding for 2005 and will grow to $800 million lost in 2009. The President’s proposed FY05 budget would cut the Section 8 housing vouchers program nationwide by more than $1.6 billion. Without additional funding for the program, it would grow to a cut of nearly 30 percent in 2009, or $4.6 billion.
The Section 8 program also faces a challenge by an administration proposal to convert the program from vouchers to a block grant with few federal rules. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates it “would enable housing agencies to reduce voucher costs through efficiencies. Yet the cuts vastly exceed any savings that could be achieved through improved efficiency.”
The report estimates reductions that would occur if the proposed funding cuts were distributed proportionally across housing agencies based on the size of each agency's voucher program. The estimates are based in part on data that housing agencies reported to HUD covering the period through July 2003. The data for California can be found at: http://www.cbpp.org/states/3-17-04hous-ca.pdf .