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GOP Budget Analysis: Housing and Urban Development Cuts Devastate Cities, Hurt Children

March 19, 2017

With the GOP in control of the House, Senate, and White House, their President has an opportunity to advance a budget that accomplishes everything set forth the GOP platform, and, as NYTimes writer Yamiche Alcindor related in an article that appeared on Thursday, cities are going to suffer mightily as a result. Here’s Mr. Alcindor’s overview of the HUD budget cuts:

Mr. Trump spent months on the campaign trail promising to fix “broken” inner cities, appealing to African-Americans with the question, “What do you have to lose?”

In terms of money, the answer turns out to be: plenty. Mr. Trump would cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13 percent and eliminate programs like the Community Development Block Grant, which cities have used to fund programs like Meals on Wheels as well as homeless shelters and neighborhood revitalization initiatives.

His budget proposal would eliminate the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency, the Education Department’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which run before- and after-school programs, as well as low-income heating assistance, community services block grants and the HOME Investment Partnership, which helps state and local governments build, buy and rehabilitate affordable housing.

It would cut funding for rental assistance and job training. In fact, the budget reaches deep into every agency to cut programs for the urban poor. Even the Department of Energy’s small weatherization program to help insulate the houses of the poor — obscure to even seasoned government watchers — would be eliminated.

Using the city of Baltimore as an example of the adverse impact, Mr. Alcindor offers some specific examples of the impact these cuts would have on one city. He quotes Karen D. Stokes, the chief executive officer of Strong City Baltimore, on the citizens who benefit from her program: “These are people who are trying to better themselves. They are here trying to become productive citizens. There is nobody here looking for a handout.”

Even GOP leaders are wary of these cuts, viewing them as contradictory to the message conservatives are trying to send and ultimately do not help solve some of the intractable problems he faced as the mayor of a small city:

Scott Smith, a Republican who was mayor of Mesa, Ariz., for six years, said the Community Development Block Grant program lined up with the ideals of small-government conservatives by providing communities flexible money. Mr. Smith said he used the funds to operate a shelter for dozens of homeless veterans with mental health issues.

“If you cut home grants, you still will have people struggling to get housing,” he said. “If you cut Community Development Block Grant programs, you will still have the homeless veteran.”

This just in, Mr. Smith: your political party no longer cares about “people struggling to get housing” or “the homeless veteran“… They are looking out for their donors who are “makers” and not those who are taking from them to enroll in programs that help those who “… are here trying to become productive citizens”. 

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