Today, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) addressed sequestration's impact on affordable housing with Rhode Island Housing Executive Director Richard Godfrey and Omni Development Corporation President Joe Caffey. The meeting took place at Turning Point II on Convent Street in Providence, a development that Omni has proposed to rehabilitate as 13 apartments for homeless veterans. The project currently faces a funding gap, and is the type of initiative that is at risk if the sequestration policy continues. In total, sequestration would cut $15 million in housing funds statewide.
"Housing programs like Turning Point II address the fundamental needs of Rhode Island's most vulnerable residents, including our veterans, elderly, disabled and children," said Langevin. "I will continue to advocate to my Republican colleagues an alternative to sequestration that includes a thoughtful and targeted approach. We cannot allow tax breaks for big oil companies making record profits and corporations sending jobs overseas to be insulated from cuts, while essential programs that provide housing for our most vulnerable are attacked."
As he continues to advocate replacing the sequestration policy that took effect March 1, Langevin is visiting Rhode Island organizations to discuss the severe impact these across-the-board spending cuts will have on programs in the state. On Monday, April 8, 2013, at 11:30am, he will visit a class at Forest Park Elementary School in North Kingstown with School District Superintendent Dr. Phil Auger to discuss the concerns faculty and staff members have about the effect of these federal budget cuts on primary education, particularly special education programs.
Sequestration comes on top of significant cuts to federal housing programs in recent years, including the elimination of both the 811 program that invested $11.5 million in the past six years in subsidized apartments for Rhode Islanders with disabilities, as well as the 202 program that invested $22 million in subsidized housing for the Rhode Island elderly during that time period. In addition, the impact of sequestration on the state this year could ultimately include:
-A forced shut-down of a homeless shelter.
-A reduction of $4.1 million in rental assistance from the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program, cutting off 526 Rhode Island families from housing vouchers.
-A reduction of $255,000 in HOME funds, preventing 11 additional units from construction.
-A reduction of $350,000 in programs for the homeless and those with special needs.
-A reduction of $44,000 in Housing Opportunities for Rhode Islanders diagnosed with AIDS.
Earlier this week, Langevin toured the Day Services facility of the Trudeau Memorial Center, an organization in Warwick that supports people with disabilities, including by providing work opportunities. CEO Donald Armstrong, as well as other staff, expressed deep concern about potential setbacks from sequestration's arbitrary cuts, noting it would put at risk education, employment and other services that help people with disabilities become more independent.
Langevin also visited classrooms at the Children's Friend Head Start program in Providence and discussed the concerns of parents and staff about the effect the federal budget cuts will have on early education, particularly for disadvantaged children and families. Rhode Island is projected to lose up to $1.8 million in Head Start funding under sequestration, resulting in up to 65 jobs lost and 312 fewer children served.