There’s a housing crisis in Massachusetts and Washington isn’t listening

When President Trump first released his budget in March, I was disheartened to learn that it completely eliminated the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). This proposal slashes funding for critical programs that help working families find homes while funding one particular program which reportedly puts millions of dollars in the Trump family’s pockets.

Eliminating CDBG will make America’s cities less safe, less healthy, and more expensive to live in. When I first saw president Trump’s proposal, however, I chalked his decision to cut CDBG funding up to partisan differences.

Now I have learned that it’s even worse than I thought. While President Trump’s plan to slash CDBG funding will make it harder for families to find homes, his decision to reinforce programs that personally benefit him confirms our worst fears that politicians in Washington are not listening.

I have seen first-hand the impact of CDBG in Newton. In Newton, we have used CDBG to creating housing units for our most vulnerable residents, improve local parks, increase accessibility of buildings and public spaces, and supporting nonprofits that provide programming for our youth, seniors, and families.

CDBG is the foundation we have used to expand affordable housing in Newton. In the last year alone, CDBG funding has gone to support the rehabilitation and construction of more than 210 rental housing units for seniors, disabled residents, and homeless families who would otherwise be living in inadequate or unsafe spaces.

We have also used CDBG funds to improve our parks, roads, sidewalks, and public spaces, making them more accessible to disabled residents and visitors. The work we have done to install accessible pedestrian signals, create ADA compliant curb-cuts, put accessible pathways in our parks, and improve our play structures is vital to ensuring that all people can enjoy Newton’s public spaces.

CDBG funds are vital to service providers in Newton who work to address the economic, housing, and health challenges facing seniors and low and moderate income residents. During FY16, CDBG funding directly served 6,688 individuals — including 4,813 seniors who were assisted to age-in-place — through trusted local service providers such as Boys & Girls Club, EMPath, Family Access of Newton, West Suburban YMCA, and The Second Step.

If Washington was listening, they would know that there is a housing crisis in Massachusetts and people and communities are being left behind. We need more programs like CBDG, not fewer. If D.C. won’t help, we need a state government that does more, not less.

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