Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I just received a very disturbing e-mail from the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless that I wanted to share. In a time when rents are rising in most cities faster than incomes and local and regional governments are playing games with the definition of low income housing (for example using metro wide income averages instead of much lower city wide averages), this federal program (often called Section 8) needs to be protected for the lowest incomed families in our country. These cuts would be disastrous. (It's never too late to call your representatives on this issue!)

National Housing Voucher Call-in Days: MARCH 1 & 2
Tell Congress the President's voucher proposal is WRONG

On Monday, March 1 and Tuesday, March 2, housing and homelessness advocates from around the country will call Congress to urge Members to protect the voucher program and the 2 million families it currently serves. Please join us in calling!

The President's FY05 budget was released in early February. The changes he proposes to the housing voucher (Section 8) program are the most radical and threatening to residents in the history of the program:

· For FY05, President Bush allocates $1.6 billion too little to fund all housing vouchers currently in use.

· President Bush's proposal would cut funding even more drastically in years to come. By 2009, funding cuts would reach 40%-a loss of 800,000 vouchers.

· The President would also remove important resident protections. Public housing authorities would no longer be required to serve people with the lowest incomes, and they would not be required to keep rent at 30% of a resident's income. Further, current voucher holders would not be protected under the proposal. Indeed, given that PHAs would be under pressure to serve the same number of families with fewer dollars, families with extremely low incomes will be at risk of losing their vouchers to families with higher incomes.

To help educate Members of Congress, DC-based advocates will hold a briefing on the President's voucher proposal on Friday, March 5. When you speak to your Congressional offices, you can urge the staff person to attend this briefing to learn more.

Please join in! On March 1st or 2nd, call 1-888-818-6641 (toll free) and ask to be transferred to your Representative's office. Ask to speak to the staff person who deals with housing issues.

Give the person you speak with the following message: "President Bush's proposal for the housing voucher program in the FY05 budget is wrong and unacceptable. It would cut funds to the program and remove important resident protections, putting thousands of people at risk of losing their housing. As you work on the budget, it is crucial that you protect the voucher program and the people it serves. (If appropriate, include a story of the importance of housing vouchers in your community.) You can learn more at a briefing on Friday, March 5, from 11 am to noon in room 2220 of the Rayburn Office Building. Will someone from your office commit to attending?"

Repeat with calls to your Senators' offices.

Please report the results of your calls and any RSVPs for the March 5 briefing to katie@nlihc.org or to 202-662-1530 x222. Pass this call to action to others you work with-especially to people who are voucher holders or who are on a waiting list. More information is available at National Low Income Housing Coalition or Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Thank you!

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