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HUD, Alphonso Jackson Nightmare & Section 8 Disaster
by Roll Back The Rents (rollbacktherents [at] yahoogroups.com)
Saturday Jun 19th, 2004 1:06 AM
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson Sabotages The Section 8
Housing Voucher Program! For The Latest In Tenant/Housing News, Join, Roll Back The Rents! Just Send An E-Mail To; RollBackTheRents-subscribe [at] yahoogroups.com
274 Alameda Section 8 Families Lose Their Section 8 Vouchers!

On Friday June 18, the Alameda City Hall was hit with 2 groups of protesters opposed to the recent cutbacks to the Section 8 housing voucher program. At noon, around 20-25 Section 8 tenants showed up in front of the Alameda City Hall and were surrounded by the media, including KPFA, the SF Chronicle, KRON chan 4, and KPIX chan 5.
No one from inside City Hall came out to address the crowd. There were 2 blind people, several paraplegics in wheelchairs, a number of families with children, a variety of women in the Section 8 program, and a number of housing activists & attorneys. Many Section 8 tenants seemed petrified by the 3 week notice they received that terminates their housing vouchers because they have no where to go. One woman received a call from her landlord asking when she would be out of her apartment, and she collapsed upon the stairs in tears. A second wave of protesters came by at 3:pm, and stormed their way into City Hall! On Saturday June 19, a number of protesters with protest signs will be at one of Alameda's bridges that people use to get onto the island, to heat up the issue further.

NOTICE: After HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson sabotaged the nation's Section 8 program, it's come to HUD's attention that the nations housing authorities fail to have the necessary funding needed for the Section 8 voucher programs, and proposes the following as a solution.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition;

In an attempt to solve that problem (lack of funding for Section 8), HUD held a call on June 10 with several organizations that represent housing authorities to ask for their support in an emergency regulatory change that would allow housing authorities to reduce their maximum payment for housing vouchers while providing minimal notice to tenants and landlords.
 
Such a change would result in landlords getting less for their units, with the tenant’s share of the rent increased to offset the agencies’ savings. Under current law, a tenant has one year before the increase would take effect, but HUD’s proposal would make the increase effective within 30 days, giving residents little time to plan for rent increases.  According to reports, HUD may publish this revision as early as Monday, June 14, to take effect within 30 days.

***********
Article Last Updated: Friday, June 18, 2004 - 6:01:33 AM PST

Alameda landlords voluntarily cut rents

200 offer reductions to cover Section 8 gap

By Susan McDonough, STAFF WRITER

ALAMEDA -- Landlords, it turns out, have feelings too.

A group of about 200 local landlords informally agreed Tuesday to voluntarily roll back rents to keep poor families on the city's cash-strapped housing assistance program, and to keep vacancy signs away from their front yards.

Alameda Housing Authority Executive Director Michael Pucci said lower rents would leave more money in the Section 8 program, making it possible to keep significantly more families from being dropped.

While 200 landlords unofficially agreed to cut rents, a total of 600 participate in the Section 8 program in Alameda.

The city's housing authority said earlier this month it would cut 240 families from the federal housing assistance program, and by extension end 240 contracts with landlords.

Property owners rallied Tuesday against that decision, many agreeing they wanted to be part of the solution.

"I'm not a hard-nosed fellow," said Yim Louie, an elderly man who rents two apartments in an eight-unit Pacific Avenue complex to families receiving rent subsidies. "Good tenants are hard to come by," Louie said, "and they're good tenants."

He plans to reduce rent for the two-bedroom units to $1,200, he said. He currently charges about $1,375.

Like many landlords, Louie is as surprised as his tenants who learned earlier this month they would no longer receive rent aid from the government.

When asked how he thought his tenants might come up with the $1,200 without Section 8 money, he said: "I have no idea."

Crowded into a humid church Tuesday, landlords complained the housing authority was forcing tenants to break the law by giving them less than a month to vacate properties and find alternative housing.

Tenants received notice June 5 that their rent subsidies would be terminated.

Many landlords at the meeting said they are negotiating payment plans with tenants, while others said they have no idea what their tenants will do to fill the gap.

Landlord Suzanne Bernhard said she would sell her property before evicting her tenant, a single mom who came to her with nothing -- no car, no furniture -- and has been a "spotless" tenant.

"I'm going to survive," said Bernhard, close to tears. "But my tenant is going to be homeless. My heart breaks for her."

She can't afford to subsidize the Section 8 portion of her tenant's rent -- which is 90 percent of $1,500 a month for a three bedrooms, she said. Nor can she afford another vacancy.

"The market is too soft."

Landlord Barbara Kahn said she and her husband will allow their two Section 8 tenants and their families to stay put, despite considerable economic loss to them.

Both tenants are bouncing back from difficult circumstances, she said, and have come too far for her to pull the rug out from under them.

"How could we?" Kahn said. "We will swallow it, and get a damn new president," she said, referring to President Bush.

In January, Congress passed legislation that the federal Housing and Urban Development agency says requires it to reform reimbursement rates to curb rising Section 8 costs.

Alameda will receive a little more than $18 million from HUD this year, significantly less than previous years, Pucci has said.

The HUD money makes up 80 percent of the agency's budget, and is not enough to cover the costs of the city's outstanding 1,659 housing vouchers, he has said.

Many landlords blamed Bush for the crisis, saying they are starting to feel the bite of an administration out of touch with the common people.

In the meantime, the Alameda Housing Authority is seeking additional money from HUD.

Pucci sent a letter last month to HUD asking for $1.5 million to replenish the authority's reserve funds.

The housing authority "blew through" that amount to pay last month's rent, Pucci said.

Alameda could also receive an additional $100,000 monthly from HUD if the agency accepts readjusted reimbursement figures submitted by the city this week.

The housing authority misinterpreted the new HUD funding formula when it originally determined its annual budget, Pucci said.

At the same time, Alameda is asking landlords to voluntarily lower their rents. It is also researching whether Section 8 rents here are higher than market rates, in which case the housing authority could force reductions.

Tuesday, it seemed the request could be met with success. But landlords said before reducing rents they want assurances their tenants won't be dropped.

Gallagher and Lindsay Senior Property Manager Lisa Fowler said while the rent reductions would be a big hit to landlords, it's even more damaging to the Section 8 program, which is only now slowly overcoming a poor reputation, she said.

"For this to happen, it is very unfortunate. It will be something that is going to haunt this program for a very long time," she said.

Contact Susan McDonough at smcdonough [at] angnewspapers.com .

*******
Alameda set to put people on the street
Chip Johnson Friday, June 18, 2004

Six months after Doris Allen and her autistic son were ousted from an Alameda motel to make way for its demolition, the city's housing authority sent notice that they will probably have to move again -- and soon.

She and her 7-year-old son, Michael, are among 240 Alameda families in subsidized housing who received a letter on June 4 saying they'd be cut from the city agency's list of Section 8 voucher recipients on July 1.

The reasons: federal budget cuts, and the city Housing Authority overestimating how many vouchers it can afford and failing to correctly reclaim expenses from Washington.

Twenty-six days isn't much notice for a person with the financial wherewithal to make a move, but for people on fixed incomes and public assistance, it's an unmitigated disaster.

"I've been sitting here crying, but I know that won't do any good,'' said Allen.

Because Allen has a good relationship with her landlord, he has agreed to let her stay if she can find a way to close the gap between the $150 she pays each month and the $1,200 she will owe him after July 1. But the funding deficit is an impassable chasm for most of the affected people.

Without a correction of the agency's expense accounting error and a change in the new federal guidelines, the Alameda agency will receive about $18 million a year in federal housing assistance -- about $3 million less than it received last year.

Alameda Public Housing Director Michael Pucci made a drastic recommendation to the City Council earlier this month: Cut all assistance and start over again. "It's absolutely a crisis and a drastic measure to take,'' he said of the draconian recommendation.

The council dismissed the recommendation and gave Pucci marching orders to empty the Housing Authority's coffers before tossing people in the street.

Most of the families have resigned themselves to moving away from the nine-county Bay Area, where most housing agencies have posted "No Vacancy'' signs outside.

The letter sent to Allen and the other Alameda families who face eviction does offer some options, though most of them would not appear attractive to anyone with strong ties to the Bay Area. Most housing agencies with cash and affordable housing are a long way from here.

Public housing agencies willing to accept Alameda's housing vouchers include a range of places across the state -- such as Butte, Sutter, Shasta, Tulare and Merced counties. In Southern California, some of the choices are Santa Ana, Culver City and Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County and Oxnard in Ventura County.

"The only places that are taking the voucher are in L.A., but I can't get to L.A.," said Alice Kennedy, a disabled 49-year-old woman facing eviction. "If I could get there I would, but I can't.''

"Oakland, Hayward, Richmond -- none of them are absorbing any more clients. There are no places in Emeryville,'' she said, going down the list of the cities she's contacted. "The only place that said they might take a voucher ... what's the name of that town?'' she asked a friend.

"Santa Ana.''

Some tenants protested outside the Housing Authority's offices on Thursday, and more are expected to stand outside City Hall today. They aren't the only ones feeling the pain.

Landlord Randy Reed, one of nearly 700 landlords in the city's Section 8 program, said he will lose the tenants in all three of his properties, which will cost him about $5,000 in rent in July.

Pucci said the agency got caught up in "over-leasing" -- a practice used by some public housing agencies that issue vouchers on the assumption that turnover will balance the books. But about a year ago, Pucci said, the agency's average monthly turnover of about 45 families that moved, left the program or died dropped to about 10 per month.

If there was a final straw, the agency underreported its expenses, which are turned in each month to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Left uncorrected, the error will cost the Alameda agency about $1. 2 million in annual federal subsidies. In 2002, an under-leasing problem caused by skyrocketing rents resulted in HUD recapturing nearly $2 million in agency reserves, Pucci added.

The city resubmitted its expense documentation to HUD this week in the hope of regaining the funds -- enough to cover a year's rent for about 100 families -- but the department has indicated that the funds will not be returned.

That just about killed the last hope for Kennedy, who has waited five years for a subsidized apartment to open up in Alameda.

She has suffered five strokes including two major attacks that paralyzed the left side of her body and another that, for a time, took away her ability to speak.

She is now officially out of ideas. Both her mother and her daughter are Section 8 recipients in Oakland, but neither can house her.

"My daughter has five children ... and no room for me,'' Kennedy said.

"I don't know what I'm going to do,'' she said softly, fighting back tears. "I'm just trying to get some help, because all I'm sure of right now is, I'm going to be homeless real soon. ... I hope people with money hear about this and try and help us because HUD has really let us down.''

E-mail Chip Johnson at chjohnson [at] sfchronicle.com or write to him at 483 Ninth St., Suite 100, Oakland, CA 94607.

*******
PROPOSED RENT SUBSIDY CUTS MAY AFFECT HUNDREDS
CAMMI CLARK STAFF WRITER
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
June 17, 2004
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer , D-N.Y., warned last week that 638 Central New York families could lose their homes under the Bush administration's plan to cut $1.6 million from Section 8, a federal rental subsidy program.

Under the proposed budget, housing authorities in Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga and Oswego counties could lose more than $3 million from the program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development , Schumer said.

When the federal fiscal year ended last July, 5,263 families in the four counties received Section 8 vouchers, Schumer said.

In an attempt to prevent the cut, Schumer wrote HUD's Secretary Alphonso Johnson and the ranking members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sens. Christopher Bond and Barbara Mikulski , last week, urging them to restore the program's full funding levels.

"It's hard enough to make ends meet these days, with the cost of living creeping higher every day and gas prices through the roof," Schumer said. "Now they want to make it less affordable for those who need it most."

"This unprecedented move by the administration boggles the mind," he added.

Schumer told Jackson and the senators that Section 8 is "fundamental to the survival of many low-income families in this country."

"This would be quite devastating on New Yorkers throughout the state," Schumer said. "And we would have a lot more homeless people because people would have no where to go."

At-risk youth

The Center for Community Alternatives honored more than 25 at-risk Syracuse youth at their annual banquet last weekend.

Each year, CCA assists more than 200 young people who have been expelled from school or referred by the courts.

These are kids who have gotten into trouble but they are also talented, intelligent and capable young people, said Sara Stuart of CCA.

Through the program, youth receive help with their school work and counseling; participate in violence prevention programs, write poetry, record songs, do community service, gain job experience and learn about ways to avoid risks and solve problems, she said.

The following is a list of winners:

Kimiell Hamilton and Jakia Collins were named Youths of the Year.

Demetrius Parker , John Thomas , Edwin Medina and Wilnisha Sholtz received an award for Greatest Effort to Improve.

The Peer Role Model recognition was awarded to Travis Jackson and Quantrell Clark .

The Greatest Academic Improvement award was given to Alisha Mack .

Recognition for the Most Dedicated went to Carlton Frank , Timetria Martin and Starlease Moore .

The Resiliency Award was awarded to DeQuan Hopper .

Kyanna Landers and Timothy Reeder won the Most Outstanding High School Female and Male.

Shaunta Hamilton , Brendan Skipp , Keith Miller and JaQuan Smith received awards for Dedicated Participation.

Keith Kelly and Marriaka Dorsey were recognized for the Most Dedication to Violence Prevention award.

Key Choice awards were awarded to Quantia Griswold and Jeffery Harrison .

Andrew Sills won the Self Development recognition award.

D'Mecca Rains , Parker and Skipp earned the Learn and Serve Community Service Award

Tameria Wheat and Quincy Jones were the Outstanding Learn and Serve Students

The Most Improved Learn and Serve Student awards went to Anthony Glenn and Landrous Hills .

The Most Outstanding Senior Peer is Yolanda King and the Most Improved Senior Peer Leader award goes to Jerome Griffin .

Kelly received the Most Outstanding in PUSSH (Peer Utilizing Successful Strategies Honorable) Presentation award. Miller won the award for Best Attendance for PUSSH Training.

And, Bruce Brumfield , Le'Nard Chisholm , Saundra Reed and Garrett Lafferty earned Mentor Special Recognition Awards.

Travis Jackson , Malika Bey , Shaunta Hamilton , Jerry Williams , Andrea Smith and Skipp all won an Optimist Award.

"No matter how bad a day they are having they never complained," said Pamela Weinberg of CCA.

Art on the Porches

The fourth annual Art On the Porches event, presented by the Greater Strathmore Neighborhood Association will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

More than 40 artists will show and sell their work on Ruskin Avenue in the Strathmore neighborhood of Syracuse.

The block also will be closed to traffic for a free street fair-style event including musicians, street theater performers, dancers and singers.

In addition, five historic homes will be open for guided tours.

Cammi Clark covers the city. Items should be submitted two weeks in advance to Cammi at The Post-Standard, Box 4915, Syracuse 13221, cclark [at] syracuse.com or faxed to 470-3081. She can be reached at 470-6005.

Section 8 cuts

According to U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., 638 families in Central New York could lose their Section 8 vouchers under the proposed federal budget. Here's a break down of the how the potential cuts would affect families in Onondaga, Cayuga, Madison and Cayuga counties.


County           Current Families       Money Cut         Lost Vouchers

Madison           241                 $108,715 29

Onondaga          3,812               $2,282,028          463

Oswego           1,053                $564,124 127

Cayuga            157                 $67,106    19

Total             5,263               $3,021,973    638

Statewide         200,442      $175.4 million

*******
Tenants protest cut in rent assistance; St. Paul housing agency must reduce subsidy.
Terry Collins; Staff Writer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
June 16, 2004

Veronica Jackson calmed her nerves just long enough Tuesday to ask St. Paul public housing officials how can she avoid telling her four kids they might have to move.

     "Tell me what I need to do to save my home," Jackson said. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Most of us here feel the same way."

She was among the more than 200 people at a public hearing about the St. Paul Public Housing Agency's proposed strategies for its Section 8 housing choice voucher program, which helps subsidize rent for about 4,000 low-income tenants in the city.

     Jon Gutzmann, the agency's executive director, told the standing-room-only crowd that the agency is considering reducing the amount of assistance it pays to about 1,500 landlords participating in the program. The agency is facing a $3 million shortfall in the next fiscal year because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reduced funding for the Section 8 program, he said.

     "We have to make a decision in the next few days to go forward, let the chips fall where they may or revise this plan," he said. "In any event, we have to save $3 million."

     In April, HUD retroactively cut payments to public housing authorities across the country, including St. Paul, Gutzmann said. The following month, HUD provided an additional $150 million in funding to housing authorities, but it still left St. Paul short, he said.

     As a result, the $3 million shortfall amounts to about $250,000 less each month, Gutzmann said Tuesday.

     The Section 8 housing voucher program helps 2 million low-income families nationwide make up the difference between 30 percent of their income and the cost of rent. St. Paul has a waiting list of more than 4,400 families seeking Section 8 help.

     A majority of tenants in attendance said they couldn't afford to move.

     "It's not you guys that will be on the streets ... we know you're trying," said Lowanda Harvey, a mother of five who lives on the East Side. "We're not going to give up."

     Meanwhile, several landlords who are in the program said they can't afford to bear the burden.

     "I want Section 8 tenants because when I got into this, I said I want to make sure low-income people have a place to stay," said Diane Binns who co-owns several units around St. Paul. "Unfortunately, the reality is you might be on the street because I can't afford to take a cut."

     Gutzmann said landlords will be contacted later this month about whether they want to stay in the program.

     Pam James, an organizer with the Community Stabilization Project, a St. Paul nonprofit organization, said the issue is not a battle of tenants against landlords and the housing agency.

     The real enemy, she said, is HUD.

     "HUD has the money. Tell HUD to give us the money," James said, earning applause.

     Gutzmann said he felt their pain.

     "We're trying to find a way to get through this crisis," he said. "We've had several ideas that we thought would fly. This current idea may not work. We're trying."

*******
CITY MAY CUT AMOUNT IT PAYS TO HOUSE POOR; MADISON IS TRYING TO COPE WITH RISING DEMAND FOR SECTION 8 VOUCHERS.
Dean Mosiman Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)
June 16, 2004

Rising demand and inadequate federal resources are forcing Madison to consider changes in a major housing program for poor people.

Despite a rising need fueled by people fleeing larger urban areas, the city may soon have 100 fewer federal Section 8 vouchers to help them pay for market-rate housing.

The city, which distributes about 1,600 Section 8 vouchers, may reduce the amounts it pays for housing and replace its 2,000 person waiting list with some sort of lottery system to determine who gets them, said city housing operation unit director Agustin Olvera.

"We're trying to do the best we can given the situation we're handed," Olvera said. "It's real frustrating when you have a list of 2,000 people who need assistance."

The cost is high because poor families are getting bigger and need to rent larger, more expensive units. Also, the city pays up to 110 percent of market rate due to high housing costs and to spread help to clients through the community, Olvera said. To balance the books, the city may distribute 100 fewer vouchers this year, he said.

The list, which can mean a year's wait, has been closed since last year and another 1,000 people have sought to get on it, Olvera said.

The voucher formula is complicated, but those who get them pay between 30 percent to 40 percent of their income toward rent and the vouchers then cover the remainder, up to 110 percent of market rate for the housing.

Changes to the program will be discussed by the city's Section 8 Advisory Committee at 4:45 p.m. today at the Boys & Girls Club -- Allied Center, 4705 Jenewein Road. The committee advises the city's Community Development Authority, which oversees the housing unit.

"None of this is good news," said City Council President Brenda Konkel, who also serves as executive director for the Tenant Resource Center. "But I think the CDA has been responsible in their thinking about how to handle it."

The crunch comes as the once-maligned housing unit has vastly improved performance at getting people into housing.

People must meet an income test -- $36,600 or less for a family of four -- to be eligible for a voucher, and there are preferences, such as for city residents and those with disabilities.

The city had 1,000 vouchers in 2000. But as the number was increased, it struggled to process the applications, with 400 of 1,556 going unused in 2002, said Olvera, who took over the struggling agency at the end of 2001.

By the end of 2003, all vouchers were being used and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the unit perfect marks and named it a "high performer" for the first time.

Now, the agency is struggling in other ways.

"We're seeing poorer and poorer people coming into the program," Olvera said. "We're getting a lot of urban flight from places like Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis."

Meanwhile, the federal government has capped the number of vouchers and the amount of money that can be spent on them. HUD made the announcement this spring.

The city should be able to cut the number of vouchers in circulation through attrition, but some cities are taking vouchers away from people who are getting them, Olvera said.

Other options include reducing payments to 90 or 100 percent of market rate, which would limit housing choices, and having a lottery to cut staff time, Olvera said.

The city, Olvera said, is also being more strict with clients who cause trouble or break the law to free vouchers for others.

***********
Congressman Aims to Restore Proposed Cuts in Housing Subsidies
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
June 16, 2004


Advocates for low-income housing raised a ruckus Monday by crowding uninvited into local Republican Party offices and demanding to send a fax to President Bush in protest of a proposed cut in federal housing subsidies.

Their cause was just, even if their tactics were geared more toward publicity than persuasion.

Section 8 housing subsidies are a success story for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Eligible low-income families and individuals, many of them elderly or disabled, may obtain vouchers that help pay the rent to private landlords. The voucher system provides an alternative to constructing public housing projects and avoids concentrating needy people in certain neighborhoods.

It is true that President Bush's budget plan for fiscal year 2005 would reduce HUD spending on Section 8 subsidies by about $1.7 billion.

But it's also true that among the most influential people in deciding HUD's final budget is Rep. James Walsh, the Republican congressman from Syracuse.

And, says Walsh of the proposed cut, "That won't pass.

"It won't pass muster with me," Walsh says, "and I suspect Congress would have huge problems with that."

Walsh is chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees federal spending on veterans, housing, environmental, space and other programs. He says his goal is to provide at least level funding for Section 8 subsidies.

Over the last three years, Congress has increased spending on Section 8 vouchers by 29 percent, for a total this year of nearly $13 billion. At the same time, Walsh has led efforts to give local housing authorities flexibility in using federal funds, while also reining in the growth of rent payments in some cities. When some housing agencies have failed to use their allotment, Congress has reclaimed that money and redistributed it.

The Syracuse Housing Authority is among those that have more demand for vouchers than supply. The local agency is allotted 2,899 vouchers, says SHA Section 8 Supervisor Terry Kresser, and those are 98 percent leased.

That leaves a three-year waiting list of 3,543 local families and individuals, many in substandard housing or paying more than half their income on housing.

The commotion caused Monday only blurred the fact that local housing advocates were correct to criticize the president's priorities. Even if Walsh succeeds in "level-funding" Section 8, there will be no shortening of the waiting list for decent housing in Syracuse.

*************
HOUSING PROTEST TARGETS GOP; DEMONSTRATORS TAKE SECTION 8 SUBSIDY CONCERNS TO COUNTY PARTY HEADQUARTERS.
By Frank Brieaddy Staff writer
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
June 15, 2004

Thirty-four advocates for low-income housing stormed the West Onondaga Street offices of the Onondaga County Republican Committee Monday morning, demanding the local GOP send a fax to President Bush urging him to abandon cuts in federal housing subsidies in his proposed 2005 budget.

Led by Syracuse United Neighbors, the group included representatives of the Greater Syracuse Tenant Network, the Syracuse Peace Council and Syracuse ADAPT, a new organization advocating for people with disabilities.

They crowded into the outer office of the GOP and chanted slogans, shook rattles made of plastic soft drink bottles with change inside and tacked their protest signs to the office walls, all in defense of maintaining federal Section 8 housing subsidies for the low-income elderly and infirm.

Syracuse police Officer Todd Hage persuaded them to leave at 11:40 a.m., about 25 minutes after they arrived, but not before they used the GOP fax machine to send their protest letter to the president.

While in the office, they demanded that Republican Committee Executive Assistant Katherine Stadelmann contact the county's GOP chair, Bob Smith, to sign the letter to Bush, urging maintenance of Section 8 subsidies for renters.

She told the group he was in Cooperstown for the day, but Smith arrived as the protesters were departing. During a brief exchange in the hallway of the office building at 375 W. Onondaga St., Smith told one protester he hoped to see her name on an arrest report.

"They came up, and they acted like a group of thugs and hoodlums," Smith said. "While they were here screaming about their rights, they were trampling on ours, terrorizing the staff."

Smith said he was upset police didn't make arrests for trespass, damage to the walls and unauthorized use of the fax machine. One sign affixed to the wall with thumbtacks read, "Bush, do you have room for 250,000 families at the White House?"

Smith said he would not discuss a position on the Section 8 housing issue because of the group's tactics. He said he would have been happy to hear the protesters out if they had made an appointment.

Ann Reynolds, of 317 Lydell St., rallied the group with a dramatic explanation of how she and her husband, both of whom, she said, have disabilities, could not afford rent without a Section 8 subsidy. She said her $239 monthly rent would be $350 without the subsidy.

"I'll be damned if they're going to take it away from me," she shouted to the protesters, who roared approval. She also said Section 8 rules guarantee the quality of apartments for low-income renters.

Using current eligibility standards, the president's proposed 2005 budget would cut $1.6 billion from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Under the Bush proposal, the cut would increase in the next four years to $4.9 billion, he said.

Schumer contends the cut would knock 250,000 families out of the program nationwide. He said it would eliminate subsidies for 638 families in Cayuga, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties during the first year. Those subsidies total a little more than $3 million.

"It's hard enough to make ends meet these days, with the cost of living creeping higher every day and gas prices through the roof," Schumer said. "Now they want to make it less affordable for those who need it most."

Reynolds said the cut would force people with disabilities into substandard housing. "There's lots of people out there with no arms, no legs," she said. "They can't move to $700-a-month apartments."
The protesters carried American flags to celebrate Flag Day and chanted slogans including "Bush pays no rent" and "Our homes, not nursing homes." When a Syracuse police officer showed up, they switched to: "Police need a raise. Hage quieted them. "I have to ask all of you to leave," he said.
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The Section 8 CatastrophyRoll Back The RentsSaturday Jun 19th, 2004 2:23 AM
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