Funding fight plans to pump billions into affordable housing

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Funding fight plans to pump billions into affordable housing

A few years ago she was told that a voucher was about to be available, but it fell through, and she has spent a lot of time moving from apartment to apartment over the past 13 years. Last spring, Ms. Silve moved with her daughter to the other side of the San Francisco Bay because the area around her apartment had become too dangerous.

“They give you hope, and that’s the hardest part,” said Ms. Silve. “But you keep hoping year after year.”

A survey of 44 large housing authorities across the country conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning Washington think tank, painted a grim picture of the voucher program. A total of 737,000 people were on the waiting list, and 32 officials are refusing to take new applications, with some exceptions for particularly vulnerable populations.

The situation on the West Coast was particularly dire, with eight times as many people on the waiting list seeking aid as in San Diego, where the list tops 108,000. Washington, Philadelphia, Houston, Honolulu, Little Rock, Ark. And long waiting lists are also a major one in New York, which closed its list years ago.

Will Fisher, director of housing policy for the center, said strengthening the voucher program was the single most important single step the federal government has taken to address the homelessness crisis.

“Look, there is an urgent need for public housing money – but it will be for existing units, for families that already have a place to live,” he said. “And most of the other funding on offer actually pushes people up a little bit above the income scale.”

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Representative Richie Torres, a Bronx Democrat whose district is among the poorest in the country, said housing is always listed as a third, fourth or fifth priority for many liberal lawmakers.

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