[Hpn] Standing up for those in need:Homeless program: ... senator plays key role

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Wed, 24 Oct 2001 14:13:11 -0400


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-------Forwarded editorial-------

Monday, October 22, 2001
Baltimore Sun <http://www.sunspot.net>
[Maryland]
Opinion section
Baltimore Sun Editorial
Standing up for those in need
<http://www.sunspot.net/news/opinion/bal-ed.home22oct22.story?coll=bal%2Dopinion%2Dheadlines>

Homeless program : As 2002 federal budget decisions near, Maryland senator 
plays key role.

Originally published October 22, 2001



WASHINGTON is consumed these days with worry over the war against terrorism 
abroad and the threat of anthrax attacks at home.
But there's other important business under the Capitol dome for Maryland 
Sen. Barbara Mikulski <http://www.senate.gov/~mikulski/>.

As chair of the Senate VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee, she is preparing 
to lead the fight to preserve funding for Shelter Care Plus, a homeless 
program that has paid big dividends in Baltimore and other American cities.

In early September -- before terrorism diverted our attention -- we wrote 
about Shelter Plus Care, its successes and its struggle to keep the money 
flowing.

The program's virtues are worth repeating, as Senate and House committees 
prepare to come together to hash out 2002 federal budgeting decisions.

Shelter Plus Care is different from most homeless programs in that it 
doesn't merely provide temporary shelter. It helps homeless people with 
physical and mental disabilities or drug problems get off the streets for 
good and into subsidized, self-selected housing. It also provides them with 
the support services they need to care for their disabilities or addictions, 
and to get jobs.

Since it started in the early 1990s, some 500 Baltimoreans have benefitted. 
And the program has helped at least three move to total self-sufficiency. 
(Yes, a government program transformed homeless people who consume resources 
into homeowning taxpayers.)

The program could expand and flourish if its funding weren't constantly in 
question. Right now, though, it will need Ms. Mikulski's full backing to 
avoid a crushing setback.

Staffers in Ms. Mikulski's office say she's prepared to fight for Shelter 
Plus Care when the conference committee begins work in the next few weeks. 
They say it's a priority for her -- one that she will not easily be 
dissuaded from pursuing.

Good. The futures -- and homes -- of all Shelter Plus Care participants 
depend upon Ms. Mikulski's commitment to this issue. Even though the Senate 
VA/HUD subcommittee (and the White House) included about $100 million for 
Shelter Plus Care in its 2002 budget request, a House subcommittee left the 
funding out.

If the money is not restored in a conference committee between the House and 
Senate, the program and those who benefit from it will be in deep trouble.

Staffers for Rep. James T. Walsh, a New York Republican who chairs the House 
subcommittee, say they left the money out of their budget because they 
thought the program got two years' worth of funding last year.

But that's not right. What they're overlooking is the fact that some of last 
year's funding had to be allocated to cover a funding shortfall from the 
prevoius year. Moreover, it takes the government more than a year to 
disburse money to programs after Congress approves it. So the money they're 
approving now won't get to Shelter Plus Care until 2003 anyway.

No money for Shelter Plus Care in the 2002 budget could put people out of 
homes and back onto the streets in 2003.

That would be an unsconscionable snub and an affront to the whole idea of 
American opportunity, generosity and good faith -- values whose importance 
we've all recognized in the past month.

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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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