AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS

Sequester Takes from the Poor, and Just Keeps on Taking

Posted by Sunny Bjerk , February 28, 2013

Sequester Takes from the Poor, and Just Keeps on Taking

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In case you haven’t heard, the automatic spending cuts that will slash funding from a number of federal programs is all but guaranteed, as Congressional leaders have packed it up and called it a day in Washington.

That’s right, Congress has decided to let the deadline before the cuts take place to pass, leaving you, me, and every teacher, student, person living with HIV/AIDS, older adult, cop, homeless person, and many, many more, plain just out of luck.

As Congressional leaders begin their finger-pointing, AIDS activists, service organizations, and people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS are facing the very stark reality that nearly $600 million will be cut from HIV/AIDS programs and services. This enormous cut—hemorrhage, even—will result in:

• 15,700 people losing ADAP benefits
• 5,000 households losing HOPWA assistance
• 460 AIDS research grants will be eliminated
• 424,000 fewer HIV tests will be administered by the CDC

And it’s not only those living with HIV/AIDS that are being tossed aside. Indeed, older adults are also taking a hit, with the Sequestration cutting a broad 5.1% from federal programs managed by the Administration on Aging. One of their more popular programs, the iconic “Meals on Wheels,” estimates that 19 million fewer meals will be served to housebound and vulnerable older adults across the country.

Indeed, the Sequestration takes from all vulnerable populations, including the homeless or those at risk of homelessness. As HUD Secretary Donovan testified on February 14th, these cuts will have a near immediate effect on Section 8 Housing and Public Housing, and more than 125,000 individuals and families—half of whom are elderly and/or disabled—will lose their Housing Choice Voucher assistance. Additionally, an estimated 100,000 homeless and formerly homeless will be removed from housing or shelter programs due to these funding cuts. (The only bright side is that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ HUD programs and assistance are currently exempt).

And inside Washington, the effects of the cuts are mixed. While Congressional staffers are facing furloughs which will equal a 20% pay cut, Congressional members own six-figure salaries will remain untouched.

That’s right. While many of the nation tonight wonders about what their futures might hold, the true authors behind the Sequestration (Boehner et al.), will head to bed knowing that it won’t affect their bottom line at all.

Read more about the specific cuts in your state.

Follow the Update blog on Twitter @housingworks.

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