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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Friday, March 1, 2013

How Government Spending Cuts Will Unfairly Affect the Poor - Especially African Americans

Government Budget Cuts

The U.S. Government just announced a $85 billion budget cut to help curb government spending. The cuts mean less money coming from the government to support school, housing and social services programs that millions of already struggling poor Americans depend on to survive. It unfairly targets low-income Americans.

Some of the government programs cut that will have a direct impact on the poor include:

* Public Housing - helps low-income people pay their rent with government subsidies;

* Unemployment Benefits - could be cut by up to 9.4 percent;

* Rural Rental Assistance - provides rental assistance for very low-income rural people, most of whom are single women, elderly, or disabled;

* Title I Funding - The Department of Education's Title I program provides subsidized funding for schools that serve more than a million disadvantaged students.

Connecticut is one state that quickly calculated the impact of government cuts on programs that help the poor. They stand to lose $56 million with cuts to education, social services and housing. Many of the agencies providing these services will end up either adjusting or ceasing to function. A large chunk of the cuts focus on social services, health care and other community support programs.

Using Connecticut as an example, here is how the cuts can affect the poor. Out of the total $56 million cuts for Connecticut, $4.3 million will affect public housing programs and another $4.2 million will cut the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program which serves 150,000 poor residents of Connecticut. In addition, another $2.5 million will be cut from Connecticut's supplemental food assistance, nutrition and health care and nutrition programs for low-income women with children under the age of 5. All of these programs are funded with federal dollars.

Other states are reporting similar cuts affecting the poor. North Carolina - funds for students with disabilities would be cut by an estimated $16.8 million and 1,150 low-income college students would not receive financial aid. Washington - 440 fewer low-income students would receive financial aid for college, 1,000 fewer children from low-income families would receive services from Head Start, and 800 disadvantaged and poor children could lose access to child care.

And this is only the first wave of cuts that will be felt across states. The second wave of cuts will come at the end of March. President Obama called the cuts "dumb" and "arbitrary." He stated: “The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy -- a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day.”

The cuts will affect not only the poor but many other Americans as well. U.S. Representative Joseph Courtney stated: "I continue to call for a balanced and bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that would prevent these sweeping, mindless cuts that will affect every American."
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