More Budget Follies

President Bush issued another round of proposed cuts to housing and social service programs in February as he sent his latest budget to Congress. Having failed in 2005 to move the community development block grant program (CDBG) from HUD to the Commerce Department, which would have included a 35 percent cut, Bush proposed a more modest 20 percent slash this year. Some of his other proposals are as bad or worse than last year’s. He once again calls for a 50 percent cut to Section 811, which provides housing for low-income people with disabilities, and for eliminating the community services block grant. Section 202 housing for the low-income elderly, which Bush proposed funding in 2006 at the same level as the previous year, is now targeted for a 26 percent reduction. The president would also defund Section 515, which provides direct loans for preserving rental housing for low-income people in rural areas. As compensation, the USDA, which funds rural housing programs, would double the size of a loan guarantee program that can be used to refinance Section 515 properties. (,

Alan Mallach, senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress and the National Housing Institute, is the author of many works on housing and planning, including Bringing Buildings Back, A Decent Home, and Inclusionary Housing in International Perspective. He served as director of housing and economic development for Trenton, New Jersey, from 1990 to 1999, and teaches in the City and Regional Planning program at Pratt Institute.


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