Gutierrez on HUD Budget: Trump Wants to Lock Up Poor People in Private Prisons

NY Panhandler AP PhotoSeth Wenig
AP/Seth Wenig

Democratic lawmakers spoke at a rally on Wednesday aimed at “demanding” more, not less, federal dollars being appropriated for low-income housing. They used the occasion to slam President Donald Trump’s proposed $5 billion reduction in spending for Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) fiscal year 2018 budget.

“The only public housing and homelessness programs Donald Trump and his buddies believe in are private prisons to lock up poor people, working people, people of color and immigrants,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) said in a statement in support of the rally held on the grounds of the Capitol. “We have to fight back non-violently against that mentality.”

“Let me be clear – housing is a basic human right,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said at the rally. “We need to say no to the heartless Trump budget and yes to funding programs that will ensure safe, decent, and affordable homes for everyone.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said public housing programs “create vibrant, mixed income communities.”

“Our country is stronger when we have affordable housing for every family in need,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) said at the rally.

A few dozen people took part in the rally planned to coincide with “Our Homes, Our Voices, National Housing Week of Action,” with similar events planned across the country.

Calling taxpayer funding for HUD an “investment,” organizers of the event said the budget cuts hurt families by targeting funding for “programs that keep a roof over their heads.”

“Advocates are demanding that lawmakers reject Mr. Trump’s proposed cuts and support greater investments to address homelessness and housing poverty in America,” the press release distributed by the National Low Income Housing Coalition said.

The coalition claims that the HUD budget would be cut by $7 billion, but an Associated Press analysis of Trump’s proposed budget shows the actual cuts would total $5 billion, or a decrease of 22.9 percent. “The budget would eliminate HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, a $3 billion effort that funds local improvement projects, affordable housing construction and other social supports like meals for seniors and enrichment programs for low-income children,” AP reported in May, adding, “The budget proposal says the program is not well targeted to poor populations and hasn’t showed measurable impact on communities. The administration’s budget also seeks to cut costs to the department’s rental assistance programs — a $2 billion decrease to $35.2 billion.”

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