150 PEOPLE ATTEND COUNCIL FORUM TO SUPPORT
SECTION 8 HOUSING VOUCHER PROGRAM
City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen takes message
to Washington D.C.
Seattle - City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the Council’s Housing, Human Services and Health Committee, held a panel discussion today with the Seattle Housing Authority and local housing community stakeholders to review the future of the Federal Government’s Section 8 housing voucher program.
“People in our community care deeply about affordable housing and helping those in need,” said Rasmussen. He added, “We saw today just how important Section 8 means to Seattle and the entire region.”
The Bush Administration has proposed reductions to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 housing choice voucher program. The 2005 budget proposal would cut $1.6 billion from the Section 8 program and eliminate the distribution of as many as 250,000 housing vouchers nationwide. The program currently helps more than 19,000 seniors, low-income and disabled residents with their housing needs throughout the Puget Sound region.
More than 150 people attended the noon forum held at City Hall today. They heard from both Tom Tierney and Stephen Norman, the executive directors of the Seattle Housing Authority and the King County Housing Authority. Both voiced their strong support of the Section 8 program and opposition to the cuts being proposed by the Bush Administration.
In response to whether he was concerned about the ramifications of voicing opposition to the Administration’s cuts, Tierney responded, “If I don’t speak out in support of protecting Section 8, you might as well look for a different executive director.”
Representatives of both Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell expressed their concerns with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s approach towards underfunding many public housing authorities across the country this year. Both Senator Murray and Cantwell have vowed to oppose the Administrations cuts to Section 8 and have joined 42 other Senators in signing a letter addressed to Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson voicing their concerns. Both are also co-sponsors of Senate Bill 2467, which restores funding for Section 8 in fiscal year 2004.
Rasmussen announced that he has introduced Council Resolution 30694, which states the City of Seattle’s formal support of the Section 8 program. He will meet with members of our state’s congressional delegation in Washington D.C. next week and urge for full funding of the voucher program.
“I look forward to sharing with members of Congress that Seattle cannot afford to lose its existing low-income housing options when we have more than 1,700 homeless on our streets and another 3,700 in transitional housing on any given night,” said Rasmussen. He added, “This Administration is completely out of touch with the housing struggles that so many people face each and everyday.”
The Council forum will be broadcast on Seattle Channel 21/28. For a schedule of when it may be viewed, please visit Seattle Channel.