[Hpn] Nation needs trust to assure affordable housing;Kentucky Post;10/10/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Thu, 11 Oct 2001 13:12:10 -0400


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-------Forwarded published guest column-------

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Kentucky Post <http://www.kypost.com>
Columns
Guest Column by Suzy Post
Nation needs trust to assure affordable housing
<http://www.kypost.com/2001/oct/10/guestc101001.html>

Column by Suzy Post


Wondering whether Kentucky has a housing crisis? Just ask one of the more 
than 8,000 households on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in Jefferson 
County. And the housing crisis isn't limited to Louisville. Thousands of 
Kentucky residents earn less than $8.65 an hour, the wage needed to afford 
an average two-bedroom apartment in the state.

Some families may double up in cramped quarters. Others may find themselves 
in substandard housing or in need of homeless shelters.

The truth is, wages for working families just aren't keeping up with the 
cost of housing and utilities. Just take the 6,800 households receiving 
Section 8 housing in Jefferson County. Most of those households fall into 
two categories, according to the Section 8 office in Jefferson County, they 
are either elderly and disabled or single parents with children. Of those 
who are not elderly or disabled, 75 percent of them are working.

The magnitude of the crisis shows up in the numbers nationwide also: Some 
5.5 million families are in ''worse case housing need,'' according to the 
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This means that they are 
homeless, in unsafe or unsanitary housing and/or are paying more than 50 
percent of their income for rent.

And it may only get worse. Last month nationwide 407,000 people filed for 
unemployment insurance, indicating a possible slowdown that could strain 
resources even more.

There are solutions to the crisis. One of the most long lasting would be the 
creation of a National Housing Trust Fund, similar to more than 170 programs 
created by cities, counties and states. Now it's time for the same measure 
at a national level to have an even broader impact on the growing housing 
crisis.

Housing Trust Funds have been created to ensure a permanent source of public 
revenue for the production and preservation of affordable housing and have 
generated more than $500 million a year. The money is used to build hundreds 
of thousands of homes for the elderly, disabled and low-wage working 
families and help create thousands of living wage jobs for construction 
workers, which in turn have helped strengthen local economies and stabilize 
neighborhoods.

Cities and states have learned that building affordable homes benefits 
everyone by providing meaningful and well-paying jobs, reducing crime and 
increasing the number of households paying property taxes. In addition, 
these cities and states save on the costs associated with deteriorating 
neighborhoods - from the treatment of young children for lead poisoning in 
substandard housing to human and financial costs of homelessness.

A national housing trust fund would build on this model and provide not only 
housing for those that need it most but investment and employment 
opportunities for thousands of communities feeling the recent pinch in the 
economy.

Our nation's low-income working families and others have already been left 
out of the $1.35 trillion tax cut package that overwhelmingly benefits the 
wealthiest Americans. In fact, studies show that when the Bush tax cuts are 
fully implemented, the top 1 percent of taxpayers will receive between 
$37,000 and $44,000. The lowest 20 percent will receive only $65 - that $65 
will not go very far in addressing the growing gap between low incomes and 
the rising cost of housing.

In any case, we must hold the president accountable to his promise that the 
tax cut wouldn't detract from funding important government services. In 
fact, we are at a moment when real investment in housing is possible. 
According to a recent U.S. General Accounting Office report, approximately 
$15.8 billion in untapped federal housing money exists. The unprecedented 
surplus of housing funds challenges the long-standing argument that the 
United States can not afford to solve its housing problems.

Given the housing crisis, it makes sense that revenue produced by federal 
housing programs be used to solve the nation's housing problems.

This summer, two measures were introduced in Congress to establish a 
National Housing Trust Fund using approximately $5 billion of housing 
surplus funds annually and other revenue. The Trust Fund would be 
administered by local governments, states and the U.S. Department of Housing 
and Urban Development. In addition, other bills have been introduced which 
would build new housing and preserve existing housing.

For too long we have kept affordable housing out of reach for millions of 
people. It's time to create a National Housing Trust Fund and open the door 
to a new era in the sadly neglected field of affordable housing.


Suzy Post is the executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, a 
124-member organization advocating for public policies which would promote 
and/or provide safe, affordable housing for low-income persons in 
Louisville.



Publication date: 10-10-01

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA



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