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Portlanders protest cuts to low income housing program

Yesterday (May 26) housing advocates held a short and sweet rally outside of the Housing and Urban Development office in downtown Portland. They were protesting budget cuts being made in the national Section 8 low income housing voucher program. If the cuts take effect, they could result in 250,000 families being booted from the program by 2005, including 3,837 families here in Oregon.
Section 8 vouchers provide housing to about 2 million low-income families - 31,000 in Oregon - by making up the difference between 30% of their income and the cost of modest rent. As of April 22, HUD and the Bush administration announced changes that would both cut overall levels of funding in 2005 and change the way the money is administered, amounting to a further cut in funds.

About 70 people gathered outside the Portland HUD office while Steve Weiss, of the Community Alliance of Tenants, went upstairs to meet with local HUD representatives. He was asking that the Portland HUD office fax a memorandum to the national HUD secretary Alphonso Jackson to demand that he: rescind the proposed cuts to Section 8, establish a grassroots consultant group of housing advocates who would review any proposed changes in housing policy, and cease all future attempts to cut Section 8 funding.

As Weiss pointed out, Alphonso Jackson is a man who has said, "Being poor is a state of mind, it's not a condition." His phone number is (202) 708-0417.

While Weiss was meeting with the HUD reps, several speakers addressed the effects of Section 8 on people here in Oregon. Rob Cook, a disabled advocate from Eugene, talked about the impacts of Section 8 cuts on people with disabilities. According to Cook, about 20% of Oregon's population has a disability. In Lane County, where he is from, the percentage is even higher, standing at 32-35.% Many of these people, being unable to work, depend on Section 8 vouchers to keep them housed.

Alan Levine spoke about his own experience, having spent 30 years of his life homeless and addicted to drugs. He had both his feet amputated after they were severely frostbitten one night. Levine said, "I could not make my recovery [from addiction] while I was worrying about where I was going to sleep and what I could eat. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying I was unable to do it." After finally getting housing through the Section 8 program, he was finally able to deal with his drug problem.

Finally, Cassandra Garrison, from the Oregon Food Bank, spoke about her experience as a welfare mother who used Section 8 to help pay her rent while she put herself through school. She is now a homeowner.

Weiss returned from his meeting and reported that the local HUD representatives had been fairly sympathetic and had faxed his demands to the regional office in Seattle. However, as someone in the crowd shouted, "That's not enought!"

The next step in the campaign will depend on how HUD responds to public pressure. In the meantime, call Secretary Jackson and the Oregon Congressional delegation (their toll-free number is 1-888-818-6641).

Thanks 27.May.2004 17:55

George Bender

Thanks for posting this. I wish Portland IndyMedia would take more of an interest in economic safety net issues. They are critical to the survival of a lot of people. Compensating for the failures of unregulated capitalism was once considered to be at the core of "liberal" politics.


slowly aware 27.May.2004 23:15

northman

Perhaps when the heat-seeking activist energy finds a way to connect with more folks from the poverty ranks another new link can be forged to leverage a force to challenge the plantation owners..someday this has to happen!

give em shopping carts and throw em out 28.May.2004 04:29

Scrooge Smith

2 million freeloaders - and you wonder why your taxes are so high. I say throw the bums out on their lazy butts.

Cuts? 28.May.2004 10:23

Strongmama

Yes,George Bender,I agree.Indymedia,why don't you have a heading called "Poverty"?

Stop the cuts to Section 8?Jesus,we need increased funding!I've been on the waiting list for a year and a half and no end in sight.I'm disabled,raising a kid alone,live on $800 a month and pay $500 in rent.That's right,folks.Let's see Mr.Fuckwad Smith live on that and raise a kid.You stupid fuck.You fucking piece of human shit.You waste-of-breath motherfucker.I only wish I could be there to see you fall on hard times.You'd get schooled up real quick.

Or are you already on the street?Are you one of those self-hating idiots who are voting for bush(if you vote)b/c its Amurican,dammit.

Poverty is about hating.The well-off hate the poor,the poor hate themselves.I have become something of a personal poverty soldier.I refuse to accept jerks like Mr Smith's opinion of me and my capabilities anymore.I am powerful,loving and strong WHETHER I HAVE A JOB OR NOT.I WILL love myself.

Housing makes financial sense 29.May.2004 10:26

and is part of social justice

You know, even if you are a heartless neo con, spending money on housing makes
economic sense. It provides the stability people need to be able to contribute
to society at whatever level they are able.

It actually lowers public costs for health care, especially for those that
are really unable to manage without help and might otherwise be placed in a
VERY expernsive institution.

It for allows schools to function betterand allows a better education for kids,
who NEED stability desperately.

People with chemical dependency problems have a REALLY hard time getting
sober and their lives back on track without a roof over their heads.

It keeps people from being desperate and committing crimes that hurt others
(rules for keeping your housing assistance are pretty strict) thus keeping
people out of jail which is more expensive.

It is an efficient use of resources, and saves money in other areas.
Not to mention it is just more human, and that people deserve and have a right to get
basic survival needs met.

Most European Counties understand this, ours is the most heartless and screwed up,
AND we've got the biggest budget.

Section 8 is important 29.May.2004 10:57

but take action on LOCAL housing funding this week

Please consider calling the City Council or County
Commissioners about the housing funds in the next budgets cycle.

The County is proposing to cut emergency rent assistance funds,
and the City may reverse it's commitment to fund affordable housing
due to a lawsuit the Police Bureau won costsing $7 million.

I just posted the contact info in another item.

We need to work on housing funding issues locally since we
have more opprtunity to have a voice in the process, even though
local budgets are so much smaller than state and federal.

Scrooge Smith 29.May.2004 16:18

Lynn Porter

Your taxes are so high because of the enourmous military budget and corporate welfare -- tax breaks, subsidies, etc. The tax load is steadily being shifted from business and the rich to people like you. The poor are getting the crumbs off the table.

The poor are ENTITLED to the safety net programs. You owe it to us. It is part of our compensation for being forced to work at low wages so you can enjoy cheap goods and services.

Or would you prefer to put us all in jail? That costs around $25,000 per prisoner. That's another thing you're paying taxes for. Be a lot cheaper to subsidize housing for us. Do the math.

By the way, when we're forced to go to emergency rooms for medical care because we don't have health insurance, it drives up your health insurance premiums. Your employer compensates by making you pay a larger share and/or lowering the benefits. So you end up with a $2000 deductible policy. You can pay now or pay later.

How about doing a little thinking instead of politics-by-reflex? Your willful stupidity is getting you screwed.

Section 8 cuts 03.Jun.2004 08:45

Use to believe in American

For years i use to be against the handing out of section 8.Once i became a social worker and began to see how Many Americans live,It changed me forever.Scrooge Smith made a comment "2 million freeloaders"NO ONE FREELOADS MORE THAN THE NATION OF ISREAL".While our nations puppet Government,and puppet congress keep signing more bills giving Billions to Isreal.Ask yourself,how much does it cost the American Tax payer (per person)per year, to give Isreal over 4 BILLION dollars? How many social programs could be added to Assist the ederly and disabled?Anyone that receives AIDE is a RECIPIENT.At the tune of 4billion a yr,Isreal is the largest WELFARE recipient in the world,Yet, we have people in American homeless and hungry.
If America took just 5% of it's defense budget,and put it into social programs,BOY WHAT A COUNTRY THIS COULD BE.Imagin using just 5% of the defense budget for education in the form of grants.Grants for people on welfare and section 8 to be trained in a skill.A skill that can be used to put people to work
As a nation, America spends more money for war than any country on earth.Yet we have people starving everyday(the news media won't show this).LOOK AT A MAP OF THE MIDDLE EAST IF YOU WANT TO SEE WHO THE REAL "FREELOADERS" ARE.

Section 8 cuts. 22.Aug.2004 07:15

Use to believe in the program.

I'm for helping people out a little, and I believe that nobody should be homeless here in America. But why is it that some of these section 8 people are living in nicer places that what some of us taxpayers can afford to live in. As a taxpayer with an average income and no dependents I am living a little 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment with no garage. Yet as taxpayer I'm paying for some of these section 8 people with 2 dependents to live in nice place that has 2 bathrooms and a garage. I'm sorry but I don't think that it's fair.