Starving Section 8 housing to fund war

SEATTLE – The new Bush budget would devastate the Section 8 housing program, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition has warned.

The slash in funding for housing and other domestic programs is coupled in the Bush budget with proposals for a 7 percent increase in military spending, to $421 billion, and new tax favors for corporations and the wealthy.

The proposed cuts have an ugly racist edge. A high percentage of Section 8 tenants are African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, or immigrants from Asian and Pacific nations.

Housing activists and homeless advocates have organized a nationwide call-in to urge Congress to protect funding for the Section 8 voucher program and for the 2 million families it currently serves.

In Washington State, 41,200 low-income seniors, persons with disabilities and the working poor depend for their housing on the voucher program. In Seattle and King County, the figure is 24,500 households, with an additional 12,000 households on Section 8 waiting lists.

The housing coalition reports that the Bush budget for fiscal year 2005 allocates $1.6 billion too little to fund all housing vouchers currently in use. Beyond 2005, the cuts would be even deeper. By 2009, funding would be slashed by 40 percent – a loss of 800,000 vouchers.

The Bush budget would also remove important tenant protections. Public housing authorities would no longer be required to serve people with the lowers incomes, nor would they be required to keep rent at no more than 30 percent of a resident’s income. Current voucher-holders would not be protected. Housing authorities would be under pressure to serve the same number of families with fewer dollars. As a result, low-income families would be at risk of losing their vouchers to higher income families.

Reprinted with permission from The Retiree Advocate, publication of the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, pscsc@qwest.net.