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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. Madam Chair, the American people are confronting a dilemma, and the dilemma is simply this: to privatize or not to privatize. When all is said and done, that's the dilemma that we face based upon what the opposing party proposes.

The simple solution to education is to simply privatize and to give them vouchers. The simple solution to Social Security is to privatize and to place it in the stock market. The simple solution to health care is to privatize and to give them vouchers. For every complicated problem, there is a simple solution that's usually wrong.

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As the economy continues to emerge from the worst recession in generations, the CBC budget understands the increased need for income security programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers.

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I have worked hard over many years to ensure adequate funding levels for housing and community development programs, such as the Fair Housing Initiatives program and the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. I am pleased that the CBC budget supports investment in these key programs.

For Fiscal Year 2012, the Administration has requested $75 million for new HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, which will end homelessness for an estimated 11,538 of our nation's veterans.

HUD-VASH combines tenant-based voucher assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at its medical centers in local communities.

Public housing authorities who are awarded HUD-VASH vouchers develop partnerships with VA medical centers to help homeless veterans find permanent supportive housing.

It is estimated that approximately 60,000 homeless veterans will need HUD-VASH vouchers. A recent report issued by HUD and the VA indicated that on a single night in January 2009, 75,609 veterans were homeless.

Over the past three fiscal years, Congress has appropriated $75 million a year for 10,000 new vouchers--for a total of 30,000 vouchers.

To continue moving towards the goal of ending veterans' homelessness, Congress should provide an additional 11,538 vouchers in FY 2012.

I am pleased that the CBC Budget makes homeless veterans a priority by providing additional funding to Section 8 which will ultimately ensure adequate vouchers in FY 2012.

The CBC Budget also provides additional funding for community and regional development programs. I am pleased that the Fair Housing Initiatives Program is listed among programs targeted to receive additional support.

This week marked the forty-third anniversary of the signing of the federal Fair Housing Act which was signed into law because of the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring civil

rights and justice in housing to all Americans. The Fair Housing Act outlawed discrimination in housing based upon race, color, religion, and national origin.

Despite its passage more than 40 years ago, approximately 4 million fair housing violations are estimated to occur each year, many of which involve veterans and military personnel.

However, according to the National Fair Housing Alliance, just 30,000 are reported to federal, state, and local fair housing authorities and only a handful are investigated with less than 120 actually resulting in charges.

This number appears low given that housing discrimination is perceived to be one of the root causes of the current foreclosure crisis.

Fair housing education and enforcement, primarily provided by private, non-profit fair housing organizations, play an important role in fighting housing discrimination and predatory lending.

With support from the federal Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), these organizations investigate over half of the nation's reported housing discrimination complaints, counsel people who have been victims of housing discrimination, and enforce fair housing laws through housing testing programs.

The President's Budget proposes $42.5 million in funding for the FHIP program in FY2012 which provides level funding from the previous year.

FHIP is a key federal program that provides funds to enforce the nation's fair housing laws, combat housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunities at the state and local level.

Given the ongoing foreclosure crisis, which has forced many families to enter the rental market, strengthened fair housing programs are more important than ever.

As the housing market slowly recovers, the need for sustained funding for fair housing enforcement is critically important. I am pleased that the CBC budget recognizes the importance of this program by providing additional funding for it as well.

In addition, I have introduced H.R. 284, the Veterans, Women, Families with Children, and Persons with Disabilities Housing Fairness Act of 2011, which aims to provide the necessary enforcement to guarantee equal opportunities and prosecute housing discrimination, as well as to be a deterrent for this kind of behavior.

It is my hope that these combined efforts will bring us closer to ending housing discrimination, especially against disabled persons and particularly against our veterans.

I ask my colleagues to vote ``aye'' on final passage of the Congressional Black Caucus Alternative Budget for Fiscal Year 2012.

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