HUD Homeless Grants Stir USA Political Battle [UK report] FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 26 Dec 1999 18:12:51 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  BBC News - World: Americas - Saturday, 25 December, 1999, 22:57 GMT


     [PHOTO] President Clinton: At a soup kitchen last week

President Bill Clinton has marked the Christmas holiday by announcing a
$900m aid programme for America's homeless.

But the move is becoming the latest political battleground in his wife's
bid for a Senate seat.

Her rival for the New York seat, Rudolph Guiliani, has called the move
politically motivated.

New York City is to receive about $60.5m, according to the Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

But Mr Giuliani, the city's mayor, will not have much influence in how the
money is spent.

The federal HUD is to decided which projects receive funding.

Mayor Giuliani said the move was likely to benefit the first lady's Senate bid.

Mr Giuliani has also come under fire for his own homeless policy - anyone
caught sleeping on the streets is liable to be arrested.

He also wants people staying in shelters to have to work for their bed and
risk being evicted from their shelter if they turn up late for work.

Mrs Clinton has already roundly criticised the mayor and opinion polls show
most people in the city oppose the measures.

'Reaching out'

The scheme announced on Christmas Day by the president will help homeless
people find homes and jobs and get treatment for drug abuse and mental
health problems.

In his weekly address, Mr Clinton said: "We're reaching out to the poorest
among us - to those who do not yet share in America's growing prosperity."

"We're making new efforts to reach out to the homeless, to help them find
housing, medical care and jobs."

The grants are aimed at funding more than 2,000 projects in all 50 states
and Washington DC.

The White House estimated the grants would help 245,000 homeless people.

The announcement was made as Mr Clinton spent Christmas Day at the White
House with his wife Hillary, daughter Chelsea and other relatives.

'New Year'

Mrs Clinton "At the dawn of this new millennium, let us reflect on our
hopes, our dreams, and the gifts we can give to the future."

The release of the homeless grants, which was already in the federal budget
and approved by the Republican-led Congress, was timed to coincide with the
traditional season of giving, when many Americans make charitable donations.

A total of $750m of the assistance will be used to provide homeless people
with transitional and permanent housing, and to fund social services such
as job training, child care, substance abuse treatment and mental health


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