I began my career in rural housing in 1973, and over the decades, I’ve been heartened as Republican and Democratic advocates for sensible rural priorities on Capitol Hill have worked together toward a stronger rural America. Such efforts are needed now more than ever.
The proposed budget would upend efforts by hard-working low-income families who put forth sweat equity to construct their own modest homes. It eliminates clean water and sewer investments which are essential to poor rural and tribal communities. The elimination of HOME and CDBG programs would undermine local efforts to provide decent housing, community facilities, and a foundation for economic development in rural communities. And de-funding national rural capacity building programs sends a stark message to the private sector: Rural America is not worthy of investment.
I have and will continue to invite Administration officials to see the firsthand impact of the investments that they propose to eliminate. I am confident that such interactions with rural America’s most vulnerable and the HAC partners working to meet their needs would convince even the most cynical of the impact of the programs slated for de-funding.
Moreover, the wholesale nature of the proposed cuts and the accompanying austerity would exacerbate the opioid crisis, which is also a housing infrastructure issue. The strains on the rural social fabric are many, and the budget proposal, if enacted, would represent a breaking point for local and county governments in the persistently poor communities where HAC works.
I join my colleagues and HAC’s partners across the country in hoping that members of Congress will see the disproportionately deep impact of the proposed cuts on our rural and tribal communities.