BY PETE DONOHUE
The city is in the midst of a homeless crisis with approximately 60,000 in the shelter system. Thousands more are on the streets and in the subway system. And it will only get worse if our train wreck of a president manages to get his federal housing budget enacted. President Trump’s budget plan would whack $6.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which represents a 13% cut. It’s a hit job on public housing. It’s also a slap in the face - or a shove out the door - to many low-income Americans struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
More than 2 million people in the United States live in public housing. More than 7 million receive subsidies like Section 8 vouchers to help pay the rent. Such a massive budget cut as Trump proposes could only result in HUD distributing fewer subsidies. It also could lead local agencies like the New York City Housing Authority to impose limits on how long tenants can stay in public housing.
So where will they go? Shelters. Seedy hotel rooms the city rents for the homeless. The streets, the parks, and the subway. The displaced will include working families, single parents with children, senior citizens, veterans and people with disabilities. The hypocrisy of all of this is thicker than the smog blanketing pollution plagued metropolises like New Dehli, Beijing and Mexico City. Trump is proposing to push struggling Americans towards the curb while forcing government agencies to spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money so he can spend his weekends at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. Since his swearing in just three months ago, Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago seven times. The cost to the federal government for the additional security and related expenses could be more than $20 million, according to some estimates. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office spent $3.5 million in Trump-related overtime between Jan. 20 and April 9. And New York City spends $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower where First Lady Melania resides with the Trump’s young nobleman son, Barron, instead of taking up residence in the White House, according to The Washington Post.
Everyone knows Trump didn’t exactly make his own way in the world. His father, Fred, was a real-estate magnate. Fred gave or loaned his son millions of dollars, and provided other critical support. Trump’s first big deal was only possible because his father, and the Hyatt hotel chain, guaranteed a $70 million construction loan from Manufacturers Hanover Bank, Wayne Barrett reported in his book, “Trump: The Deals and the Downfall.” In addition to Daddy Warbucks, Trump was aided over the decades by tax loopholes and bankruptcy options made available by the federal government. They helped his businesses restructure, or walk away from, massive debts and obligations while living larger than most people can even dream of.
The nation’s poorest – in our cities and rural areas - are asking for the same thing from their government, just on a much more modest scale: help. Trump of all people should understand that.