February 17, 2011
Tim Kauffman/[email protected]

House Budget Bill Would Starve Local Communities of Vital Resources

WASHINGTON – A Republican-led House bill to fund federal agencies through the end of September would cut billions of dollars in assistance to local communities for public housing, day care and after-school programs, meals for the elderly and programs that create and retain jobs, an American Federation of Government Employees leader said today.

HR 1 would slash grants provided to state and local governments through the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Block Grant program by 69 percent compared to the enacted 2010 budget. That amounts to more than $2.9 billion in cuts this year in programs that provide Meals on Wheels for the elderly, day care and after school care for children, job opportunities for residents in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and hundreds of other local assistance services.

“These are devastating cuts at a time when more and more Americans are living at or below the poverty line and are relying on local and state governments for help,” said Russell Varnado, president of AFGE’s National Council of HUD Locals Council 222.

In addition, the bill cuts funding for local public housing assistance by nearly $1.1 billion, or 43 percent compared to 2010 enacted levels. More than 1.2 million low-income families, senior citizens and persons with disabilities live in rental housing that is managed by local housing authorities. The grant funds issued by HUD are used to maintain public housing units as decent, safe and sanitary.

While the bill proposes drastic cuts for government-run public housing programs, House Republicans want to provide nearly full funding to private-sector corporations for their Section 8 housing. Varnado said this disparity illustrates that the Republican majority in the House is interested in wiping out funding for nearly all government programs, instead preferring to hand over control to private corporations that are not accountable to the public.

“The House Republicans are responding to their constituency—and it appears that their constituency is private owners and corporations, not private citizens and their local elected representatives,” Varnado said.

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