Mayor Takes Off Mitts for Romney

Responds to Suggestion of Eliminating Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said the elimination of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — as suggested by Republican Presidential nominee candidate Mitt Romney — would be “devastating for low income families and seniors.” Schneider, who cut her teeth politically serving on the city’s Housing Authority, noted that HUD housing vouchers have been issued to more than 2,000 low-income Santa Barbarans.

Without HUD, she said, there would be no Community Development Block Grants (which traditionally have fueled a host of nonprofits, no Rental Housing Mediation Task Force, and no funding for a host of homeless support programs. Likewise, Housing Authority director Robert Pearson stated his agency gets $24 million a year from HUD just for housing vouchers, and the county’s Housing Authority gets $30 million.

Speaking at a no-media-allowed political fundraiser in Florida, Romney suggested he might eliminate departments like HUD — which his father used to head — to cut the federal budget. Pearson pointed out that because HUD currently insures 39 million home mortgages nationwide, its abolition might generate chaos in the housing market. “If we have a homeless crisis in the nation now, losing HUD would compound that issue hugely,” he stated. “Dumb idea? Definitely.”

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