WHEN the U.S. Senate begins consideration next week of the president's proposed budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, one aspect worth noting is its attempt to expand housing alternatives for the working poor.
Without those options, a growing number of suburban households will find themselves priced out of the booming rental market. In addition, welfare to work is little more than an illusion without more units of affordable housing, convenient to suburban job growth.
According to a recent HUD study, the thriving U.S. economy has done little to alleviate the housing problems of the working poor.
In fact, a record 5.3 million such households -- about one-third located in the suburbs -- desperately need assistance.
"The story of housing in the 1990s is a story of prosperity without progress," observed HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, whose department is seeking more than $800 million in fiscal 1999 to increase the nation's supply of affordable housing.
A portion would be targeted specifically at families in welfare-to-work programs.
HUD data suggest the number of apartments affordable to families with very low incomes dropped by 900,000 from 1993 to 1995. Congress, however, has rejected repeated HUD requests for additional funding for its housing assistance voucher program.
That's a shameful record of neglect that can and should be corrected if this nation is serious about helping to create and maintain self-sufficient working families.
Pub Date: 6/03/98