On Tuesday, the Trump Administration released their federal budget, which sacrifices valuable, effective programs to help those who need it in return for an questionable tax cut for those who need it the least. This approach is morally wrong and completely ineffective at boosting the economy. In fact, Trump’s budget would further accelerate our dangerous wealth inequity while hurting those who need the help the most.
I believe access to a decent, affordable home is a right, not a luxury for only those with means. When I worked at Foundation Communities, one of the most successful affordable housing non-profits in Austin, I got to see how federal housing funds are a critical part of providing quality affordable housing families most at risk of homelessness or being priced out of our community. In fact, I experienced how effective these programs, with the help of federal housing funds, has transformed my own neighborhood and helped improve schools.
The building pictured above is the Learning Center at Sierra Vista in my neighborhood near Saint Elmo Elementary. Before Foundation Communities used federal, local, and private funds to renovate, the Sierra Vista apartments were called Shady Oaks… and they were very shady! The apartment owner had let the property decline, doubling or tripling up families in each apartment and making it a magnet for gang activity. Now, the much improved property provides quality housing for 238 families at an affordable rate, including 24 apartments for families who were formerly homeless. The Learning Center offers after school homework help and enrichment activities for children and adults. The results for our neighborhood? A lower crime rate and an elementary school that is a top ranked school in serving a low income population.
I met many of these families and individuals and heard their personal stories of struggling to get by. These programs work. That is why I led the successful effort to invest $65 million in local bonds in creating thousands of new affordable homes to meet the great demand.
Federal funding is a key part of successful affordable housing efforts. The Trump budget proposes a $7.7 billion cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Local non-profit HousingWorks Austin says over 250,000 nationally would lose housing assistance and the City of Austin would lose $7 million next year. These funds are critical to stretch the local funds in providing the most housing we can.
On the chopping block as well is the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which helped fund 27 apartments for disabled residents. Please take a moment to watch this story of how federal housing funds give our disabled neighbors the dignity of a home.
Speaker Ryan and the House Republicans are taking President Tump’s lead to drastically cut social programs so the wealthiest can keep even more of their money. Congressman Lamar Smith has been a loyal Trump vote in Congress and cannot be trusted to protect those in need. It is time to replace Smith with a Representative who will fight for all of us!