Budget Cuts, and the Pathway to Homelessness

By Lynda Carson

People are so desperate in these harsh economic times where the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes, during January of 2011, the Oakland Housing Authority opened up its Section 8 waiting list (Housing Choice Voucher Program), and it was expected that around 100,000 needy low-income families would apply for the coveted subsidized Section 8 housing vouchers during the five-day application period. The Section 8 voucher contracts allow the low-income households to pay only 30 to 40 percent of their income towards rent, and the government would subsidize the remainder in monthly rental payments to the landlord.
Despite the need for more Section 8 vouchers for the poor, Oakland Housing Authority executive director Eric Johnson stated in a Chronicle article, “There are currently only 650 vouchers available, and about 50 vouchers get freed up every month.”
Presently there are 13,777 Section 8 vouchers in use in Oakland.
For more than 40 years the Section 8 program has offered stability and has kept thousands from becoming homeless.
Under the leadership of the Tea Party and the GOP, with their draconian hostile proposals, cynically called “The Path to Prosperity”, millions of low-income families are at risk of becoming homeless.
California housing authorities have already made proposals to dispose of or demolish over 14,000 public housing units, including the disposal of 1,615 public housing units in Oakland, and around 74 public housing town-homes in Berkeley.
Oakland and Berkeley housing authorities plan to privatize and sell off their public housing units in a desperate move to convert the units to Project-Based Voucher Units, in an effort to pull in higher rents than what they collected under the Public Housing Program.
Currently, public housing and Section 8 programs do not have time limits. The landlords can count on the stability and lending institutions offer loans for repairs and renovations based on the stability of the programs. This stability appears to be coming to an end because of the proposed time limits.
The proposal attacks Medicaid/Medicare and Social Security and plans to cut other domestic social programs during the next decade, devastating the poor, elderly and disabled. It also offers an additional $800 billion in tax breaks, and would block the $1.5 trillion Bush era tax breaks to the rich and super rich, from ever expiring.
The Tea Party/GOP’s so-called Path to Prosperity proposal is a master plan to enrich the already wealthy, while creating a Path to Homelessness for everyone else.
Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com