PEF takes political action to stop funding cuts
Bush proposal slashes national and local housing services
By DEBORAH A. MILES
A new cost-cutting proposal by the Bush administration could force dozens of housing agencies nationwide to reduce services or close buildings. And the Albany Housing Authority (AHA) where 30 PEF members work is one of the prime targets.
“The problem is they have to cut the budget,” said PEF Region 8 Coordinator Lou Matrazzo. “Housing authorities in the Northeast are among the hardest hit under the new proposal. It’s designed to redistribute billions of housing dollars toward rural and southern areas and away from older northern areas.”
If the Bush administration gets its way and the changes take effect, it will result in one of the biggest cuts since Washington first began subsidizing housing: as much as $480 million, or 14 percent, of the $3.4 billion federal budget for day-to-day operations including labor, maintenance, insurance and utilities at the nation’s 3,100 housing authorities.
According to the state Public Housing Authority Directors Association (NYSPHADA), the $3.4 billion is very inadequate for an operating fund and should be $4.2 billion.
For the capital fund, NYSPHADA is pushing for $3.5 billion, which would be used for new buildings and remodeling jobs. The association, which represents 63 public housing authorities, is concerned the proposed budget for fiscal year 2006 recommends a 10 percent reduction, or a drop of $2.3 billion. And that doesn’t address the backlog of projects
totaling more than $20 billion.
In the Capital District
In the Albany area, Matrazzo said an additional $660,000 could be shaved-off the budget.
“The AHA now has a reserve of 34 percent of its annual operating budget,” he said. “Once reserves fall below 20 percent, the federal government sends in a trustee to take over the authority.”
Organizing political pressure
PEF’s plan is to lobby on a federal level to get the funding restored. The union will present its case with U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, and representatives Mike McNulty, John Sweeney and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.
Meanwhile, trepidation is looming over the members who work at AHA. A couple of members were bumped into positions represented by the Civil Service Employees Association.
“They still have a job, but are taking a big hit in their pay,” said Gary Simmons, PEF Division 503 council leader and a 25-year AHA employee.
“The Housing Authority is anticipating these cuts and the result is we are losing personnel. Positions are not being filled, and other positions are being privatized,” added Diane Myers, PEF’s Executive Board representative for AHA members and a development manager.
“It seems as if they are chipping away at our union one by one,” Myers said.
A financial waiting game
Myers and Simmons said the AHA is jumping the gun and making changes because of the possible 11 percent cut in funding, which would result in a loss of more than half a million dollars annually.
“We’re hoping to suffer only a 5 percent hit,” Simmons said. “We could deal with that.”
Everyone is in the dark until the budget is announced for the next fiscal year, which begins in July. Until the figures are released in August or September, Simmons said the political action PEF is taking with key lawmakers is the best approach to stop the Bush proposal.
Communicator June 2005
Inside This Issue
Rally to end mandatory OT
- Building momentum every day
- Assemblyman leading the charge
- Senator pushes accountability bill
Retirees In Action
Membership Benefits &Travel
Members unite to stop
tries to keep services afloat
honored at Somos El Futuro
Taking action to stop funding cuts
SBUH members flying air rescue
Extension for parole pistol permits
Elections held for E- Board
Do You Prefer The
Email the Webmaster