Budget would deal a devastating blow

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, June 13, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget currently under consideration by Congress would deal a devastating blow to organizations who serve those in need of safe, decent, affordable housing, including the Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity. 

Budget cuts would directly affect the number of families we can serve in our community.

A Habitat homeowner is not given their house. In addition to the hundreds of hours they spend volunteering on their home, each family pays an affordable mortgage. This is financed in one of two ways.

Email newsletter signup

First, some are financed directly through the local Habitat. For those, the entire cost of construction must be raised prior to starting to build. That money comes from a variety of sources, including individuals, churches, businesses, civic organizations, government and grants.

The second method of financing is with the federally funded USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Rural Development 502 direct loans. In that case, construction can begin sooner as USDA provides the construction budget as the build progresses.

Another set of important programs which allow us to better serve our community are made possible through the federal funding from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development).   

These HUD programs include Section Four Capacity Building, which allows organizations to increase staff.

Those grants have allowed us to add both a ReStore manager and a community outreach director. The HOME Investment Partnership Program has funded down payment assistance for families. 

The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, or SHOP, helps in land acquisition, and made possible our past purchase of two buildable lots.

AmeriCorps National Service provides organizations individuals who serve for one year. 

We have used this program twice in the past to add temporary staff positions.Community Development Block Grants are used by many Habitats, in conjunction with local government, to engage in widespread development of affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization.

Every federal program I just mentioned is not simply being reduced, but entirely eliminated under the president’s budget proposal.

If this budget passes as is, we will continue to serve our community. However it will occur at a much diminished capacity. 

The perfect combination of local support and federal programs have allowed us to move from serving an average of two families per year to currently being on track to serve five families in one year.

Please consider being the voice for affordable housing in our community. Visit our website at www.farmvillehabitat.org, where you will find links to quickly and easily email your congressional leaders and let them know you oppose these proposed budget cuts.

Sam Rabon is the community outreach director at the Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity and can be reached at sam@farmvillehabitat.org.