WASHINGTON, September 12 – The Senate today approved legislation that includes a provision by Senators Bernie Sanders to prevent the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from withholding an estimated $20 million from high-performing public housing authorities in Vermont and nationwide.
A HUD appropriations bill included an amendment, cosponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, that would require the department to provide an estimated $181,300 for badly-needed capital improvements for Vermont housing authorities, including:
- $37,400 to the Burlington Housing Authority for drinking water improvements at Riverside Apartments and Hillside Terrace Apartments.
- $32,000 to the Brattleboro Housing Authority for kitchen and bathroom renovations for the elderly and disabled.
- $23,200 to the Rutland Housing Authority.
- $13,700 to the Springfield Housing Authority.
- $40,000 to the Winooski Housing Authority.
- $35,000 to the Barre Housing Authority.
The amendment would undo a HUD decision to deny an estimated $20 million in capital fund bonuses counted on by nearly half of the nation’s housing authorities that are rated as high performing.
“This was just one more example of how the Bush administration is out of touch with the needs of ordinary Americans,” Sanders said. “Our amendment restores resources for much-needed housing programs that never should have been in jeopardy in the first place.”
“Vermont’s high-performing housing agencies rely on these productivity bonuses to offer affordable housing for seniors, disabled persons and families most in need,” said Leahy. “This sudden, irresponsible and counterproductive decision reflects the incompetence and the misguided priorities that by now are hallmarks of the Bush Administration’s lack of leadership in the affordable housing crisis. The Sanders-Leahy amendment simply mandates that HUD follow the law so that Vermont’s high-performing housing agencies can continue to offer the housing and services that their Vermont residents need.”
In a September 7 letter to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Sanders, Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch said the department’s “failure to manage” the program properly was no excuse to abandon it. The members of the Vermont delegation said they had heard from housing authorities after HUD announced that it planned to scrap the bonuses this year, and “to say that the affected agencies were stunned would be something of an understatement.”