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Resolution Against Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Budget for a Federal Housing Program

WHEREAS, we believe that the Bush Administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Budget, released in early February, contains meager funding levels insufficient to sustain federal housing programs at current service levels; and

WHEREAS, we believe the Budget and related Administrative initiatives propose additional policies which threaten extremely low-income tenants or the continued viability of the federal housing programs; and

WHEREAS, in most federal low income housing programs historically rent has been set as a percentage of tenant income, usually no more than thirty (30%) percent. In 1998, Congress authorized minimum rents, established without regard to tenant income, which encroached upon this core protection, but gave public housing agencies discretion whether to impose them, while also requiring a mandatory hardship exemption. Currently for public housing and the voucher program, each public housing authority determines the amount of minimum rent, that can be set between zero ($0) to fifty dollars; and

WHEREAS, now for the very lowest income families, the Administration proposes to completely erode the principal rent should be based upon income. The FY 2004 HUD Budget eliminates Public Housing Authorities discretion and proposes a minimum rent of at least $50; and

WHEREAS, the proposal would apparently apply to all the major federal housing programs serving extremely low-income families public housing, the Voucher program and project-based Section 8 as well; and

WHEREAS, a local Public Housing Authority could set a minimum monthly rent of $100, $150 or more, without HUD approval with elderly and disabled families exempt and, others obtaining hardship exemptions from HUD Secretary; and

WHEREAS, the stated purpose of the mandatory minimum rent is to promote work and increase equity in the treatment of families with similar needs. But the actual effect will be to eliminate local discretion to charge no minimum rent and to harm those residents (by definition the very lowest income) currently paying less than the new minimum rent levels. Hardship in purchasing other life necessities and eviction will result, all in pursuit of an insignificant amount money; and

WHEREAS, the poor will not be able to seek an exemption from local authorities as they now can when threatened with illness, job loss or eviction. Instead, in an outrageous case of federalization by an administration that preaches virtues of state control, the poor could seek a hardship exemption only by appealing to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 46% of extremely low-income families at or below 30% of median income reside in public housing nationwide.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP oppose any Bush Administration's FY 2004 inadequate budget funding levels for federal housing programs and any related administrative initiatives that threaten extremely low-income tenants or the continued viability of the federal housing programs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP, at the National Convention assembled in Miami, July 2003, reaffirm its commitment to work for much needed affordable housing.