Sanders opposes cuts to housing assistance program

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders says he plans to strongly oppose a Bush administration plan to reduce funding for a low-income housing assistance program. The president’s budget proposal for the new fiscal year calls for a cut of $4.3 million in federal housing subsidies in Vermont.

Sanders says the cuts could affect more than 700 people who currently receive so-called Section 8 housing subsidies. Richard Williams is the director of the Vermont State Housing Authority. He says the proposed budget cuts come at time when demand for the program is growing:

(Williams) “The Vermont State Housing Authority waiting list has over 3,000 households, which is at an all time high. Because of this, the Vermont State Housing Authority closed its waiting list or its application list for Section 8 vouchers on July 1. In the history of the agency we have never done this before. Clients have a deeper level of need than in the past and the program looks increasingly like a special population program. These folks have very little choices and no safety nets.”

(Host) Sanders is the sponsor of legislation that hopes to appropriate $25 billion over the next seven years to build more than a million new affordable housing units throughout the country. Sanders is engaged in a parliamentary fight in the U.S. House to bring this bill to the floor for a vote:

(Sanders) “The more unseen, less media covered aspect of the housing crisis is that over 14 million Americans are paying over 50 percent of their limited incomes in housing – 14 million Americans. Now, if you’re paying over 50 percent of your income for housing how do you have money for health care? How do you have money to keep your car running? How do you pay the electric bills? How do you put away a few bucks for your kids’ education?”

(Host) This week Sanders is launching what’s known as a “discharge petition” in Congress. He’s trying to get half of all House members to sign the petition. If he’s successful, the legislation will then be brought to the House floor.

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