Last night, the Senate approved a $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill. Absent from the legislation was a provision aimed at
building and rehabilitating affordable housing stock. For that, you can
For days, Republicans of various stripes have ...
Last night, the Senate approved a $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill. Absent from the legislation was a provision aimed at building and rehabilitating affordable housing stock. For that, you can blame conservatives.
For days, Republicans of various stripes have fumed about a section of the bailout bill they believe was written principally to redirect taxpayer money to ACORN, the low-income community group right-wingers love to hate. Earlier this week, the local conservative blog Backyard Conservative flagged a Ken Blackwell article in which the vote purging extraordinaire writes that "repeated rumors leaked out that the Democrats were trying to funnel money to a hyper-partisan organization involved in criminal voter fraud." House Minority leader John Boehner told reporters the trust fund idea was a "left-wing giveaway Democrats are pushing to force taxpayers to bankroll a slush fund for a discredited ally of the Democratic Party.” Even 10th District GOP Rep. Mark Kirk told The Hill last Friday that centrists might not vote for a bill that included funds for ACORN.
So what are they talking about? As originally written, the bill contained a stipulation that promised 20 percent of the government’s profits from the sale of a troubled asset be deposited, with 65 percent of the deposit directed to the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Why was it negotiated out? Because conservatives raised a ruckus without understanding the mechanics or aim of the fund.
Wonk Room provides some specifics about how the resources are allocated:
But conservatives are completely mischaracterizing this part of the bill. Directing funds to the Housing Trust Fund does not mean that money is being given to ACORN. In fact, state and local governments - not the federal government - choose which organizations receive money from the fund.
While it is conceivable that ACORN would receive money, it “was not specifically directed any funds in the previous proposal.” For its part, ACORN, in order to maintain independence, “does not accept government funding and is not tax exempt.”
So if it's not an "ACORN slush fund," what does the trust fund actually accomplish? The National Low Income Housing Coaltion explains:
The Housing Trust Fund was established on July 30 when President Bush signed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. It is a new federal housing program that will provide funds to state governments for the purpose of building and rehabilitating homes for the very lowest income people in the United States. These are the people who work in the low wage work force, as well as seniors and people with disabilities and people who are homeless. The states are to make grants to housing developers with demonstrated capacity and experience who will build and operate these homes.
The Housing Trust Fund is the first new federal housing production program since 1974 that is specifically for extremely low income renter households. The need for this new program is acute. Today in the United States, there are 9 million extremely low income renter households and only 6.2 million homes with rents these families can afford. Consequently, 71% of extremely low income renters spend more than half of their income for housing, leaving them without enough money for other essentials and at high risk of losing their homes and joining the ranks of the homeless. This is a housing crisis of major and longstanding proportions that the federal government must address.
So thanks to conservatives' scare tactics, we may see even more tent cities spring up across the country.