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Response to Demeter (Reply #13)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 06:51 AM

14. The Affordable Housing Crisis

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/opinion/the-affordable-housing-crisis.html?_r=0

The precious few federal programs that provide rental assistance to the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable families are already underfinanced. These programs provide decent housing for about only a quarter of the low-income families who qualify for them. And with nearly nine million households teetering on the verge of homelessness, the country clearly needs more support for affordable housing, not less.

The main federal programs are traditional public housing, for which the government provides operating expenses, plus two different programs under Section 8 of the housing law, in which rents are subsidized in privately owned properties. Federal housing programs provide a lifeline for about five million low-income households that would otherwise be unable to afford livable housing at all.

More than half of these households are headed by elderly or disabled people and more than a third are families that include children. These families are overwhelmingly “extremely low income,” which means they earn less than a third of the median income in the areas where they live.

Congress has not treated these housing programs kindly in recent years. Between 2010 and 2012, financing fell by about $2.5 billion, or nearly 6 percent, although some of this was mitigated by one-time measures, like spending from reserves. President Obama’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year is not much of an improvement; given inflation, Congress would have to increase appropriations just to keep treading water, when, in fact, what the poor in this country need is a significant jump....

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