By Eric Galatas
Colorado’s minimum wage workers would have to work 94 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to a new report.
Even after a deal was struck to avoid a default on the nation’s bills, Congress is still moving to cut roughly 22% from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s budget.
Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said cuts to affordable housing and rental assistance programs would be devastating for the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
“If that happens, almost a million households that are currently receiving rental assistance could lose that rental assistance, at a time when housing costs are increasing,” Alderman pointed out. “It’s likely that those households would fall into homelessness.”
The GOP controlled House of Representatives passed legislation in April calling for across the board cuts to non-military spending, which the Biden administration estimates would result in lost rental assistance for 10,000 Colorado families, including older adults, people with disabilities, and families with children.
Families of color have long faced discriminatory housing policies, dating to soldiers returning from World War II being denied down payments under the GI Bill, and being denied mortgages in certain neighborhoods.
Alderman pointed out such families would also take the biggest hit if Congress succeeds in cutting housing assistance now.
“Those households are going to be at much greater risk of falling into housing insecurity,” Alderman emphasized. “And particularly homelessness, at a time when the Black and Native American populations are already disproportionately represented in the households experiencing homelessness.”
The National Low Income Housing Coalition report ranked Colorado the eighth least-affordable state in the nation for housing. Alderman argued the best and most efficient use of tax dollars from HUD, Proposition 123 funding and other recent affordable housing policies is to invest in solutions for the lowest income households with the greatest need.
“If we don’t stabilize those individuals, they will fall into the cycle of homelessness,” Alderman contended. “They will draw down more resources, because it is much more expensive to be in the cycle of homelessness than it is to stay stably housed.”
Eric Galatas is a Producer with Public News Service.
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