“Protestors constructed a cardboard box “Tea Party Housing Development” to block traffic on Clark Street during rush hour to draw public attention to the injustice of targeting the deepest federal budget cuts to programs for low-and moderate-income communities, including vital HUD housing programs.
Traffic was stopped in front of the Chicago Federal Building housing the Illinois offices of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 11 protestors participating in the traffic blockade were arrested and released a few hours later," reported Michael Kane of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants earlier today.
Check out a video of the protest taken by the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign: http://vimeo.com/20535027.
Over the past several years, our nation has been plagued by an economic crisis that parallels the Great Depression. Millions of jobs and homes have been lost and Americans are finding it harder to secure affordable housing and obtain livable wages. Given the bleak situation many households face, it’s no surprise that local homeless agencies are reporting as much as a 61 percent rise in homelessness.
Few would dispute that this is a time when the federal government should be strengthening its commitment to providing adequate housing for everyone. Yet, members of Congress and the Obama Administration are proposing to jeopardize the very resources we need most for stability in our communities. Even as HUD’s own numbers show a 20 percent increase in households in dire need, national debates have focused on how much to cut from federal low-income housing programs – not how much to add. In fact, the new Republican House leadership has proposed $5.5 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget. The Obama Administration’s proposal is not much better, weighing a cut of $1 billion from the $4 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds local housing programs, and a 5% cut to already severely underfunded HUD, along with a five-year “freeze” on all domestic programs!
To find out more about what’s at stake, please check out the H.R. 1 Fact Sheet put together by our allies on the West Coast: the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) and the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN).
In light of these draconian proposals, the Chicago Housing Initiative, an affiliate of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, and many other Chicago community-based groups brought together over 300 HUD tenants and their allies on Friday, February 25th, to protest the dire cuts to HUD’s budget.
The Chicago protest received significant coverage by local and national news outlets, including this article in the Chicago Sun-Times: http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/4014509-418/protestors-rip-republican-cuts-to-housing-budget-block-downtown-traffic.html.
This Feb. 25th action in Chicago took place only 11 days after NAHT’s “Have a Heart: Save Our Homes” Budget Campaign swept across the country. HUD tenants organized 20 local actions from California to Maine on Valentine’s Day to deliver the message that we are not “all in this together;” in fact, HUD’s low-income housing programs should not be “in this” at all. See the Nation’s coverage of NAHT’s National Day of Action: http://www.thenation.com/blog/158540/valentines-message-home-where-heart. In the upcoming days, NAHT will be sending out more information and updates on this important initiative (and we will be sure to pass it along)!