News Round-Up: Desperate Times, Inadequate Measures

Evidence has been mounting for decades that there exists in the United States an extreme shortage of rental housing affordable to the lowest income Americans. What those with influence choose to do about this situation is another matter.

The Los Angeles Times and the Huffington Post reported last week that a Los Angeles landlord took advantage of that city’s demand for low-cost rental housing by subdividing a triplex into 44 separate apartments. While housing this substandard is illegal, and criminal charges have been filed, as Huffington Post notes it is no surprise that demand exist for this kind of living situation, when the national Housing Wage is $18.25.

Presumably, those Los Angeles renters must now move to new apartments. As reported by Affordable Housing Finance and in Memo to Members, a recent study from the Brookings Institution and First Focus shows that switching schools due to a move is detrimental to a child’s education, as well as to her physical and mental health. The report recommends funding the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as increasing funding for HUD’s voucher, public housing, and project-based rental assistance programs.

How will Congressional appropriators address this issue? The House passed its FY13 budget for HUD on Friday with inadequate funding for key programs serving low income people. According to Coalition president Sheila Crowley, in spite of the efforts of a few Representatives to introduce helpful amendments to the bill,

“The U.S. House of Representatives broke faith with many thousands of the poorest, most vulnerable Americans who are served by the programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Housing assistance is not an abstraction. Real people, the majority of whom are elderly or disabled, will lose their homes if these cuts are enacted. And turning the clock back on fair housing shows that the House is out-of-step with 21st century American values.”

It might be some time before the FY13 budget is decided; the Senate has yet to weigh in with its own appropriations bills.

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