US House shifts $2.2B from housing to military & emergency relief

Tom Boland (
Sat, 11 Apr 1998 01:09:47 -0700 (PDT)


  By Joseph Schuman
  Associated Press Writer
  Friday, April 10, 1998; 2:34 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jeanette Mobley and her son spent two years in a
homeless shelter on Chicago's North Side before a federal housing subsidy
allowed them to move into a safe, clean apartment in 1994.

Now, as Congress threatens to remove much of the money from the subsidy
program, she worries that she could once again find herself on the street.

``I just shudder to think what would happen,'' Mobley said. ``I could lose
where I live.''

The House recently agreed to take $2.2 billion from the $12.6 billion
rental assistance program and use it for emergency disaster programs and
military deployments.

The Senate passed a similar bill but chose to draw the emergency funds from
an expected budget surplus. Lawmakers from the two chambers will have to
reconcile their differences when they return from their spring break later
this month.

If the House version stands, Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo said, an
estimated 1 million people might find themselves homeless when the new
budget year begins in October. He accused the House of solving one problem
``by creating another.''

``These are people who have no other resources and no other recourse,''
Cuomo said.
The average subsidy differs by location. In Mobley's case, the money pays
her full $533 monthly rent.

The average annual income of the families helped by the subsidy program is
$7,500. Their contracts for rental vouchers are renewed annually. The
Clinton administration has not yet figured out how it would choose which
contracts to cut.

House Republicans insist they will not have to cut any.

Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Banking subcommittee on
housing, said Congress could find new funding for the program by next fall.

``The House leadership has assured me that the federal government's
obligations to families and seniors holding vouchers will be met,'' Lazio

But Cuomo said he was skeptical, since some Republicans have talked about
eliminating the entire Department of Housing and Urban Development.

``They could have found other money ... that wasn't needed in October to
keep people from becoming homeless,'' Cuomo said earlier this week.

Mobley, whose guaranteed housing allowed her to find a job with a public
service cable TV channel, said she does not understand why Congress is
threatening the government program that brought stability to her life.

``All of us could be out,'' she said. ``We'll have to look for apartments
we can't afford. We won't have anywhere to go.''


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