Nassau County Legislator Lisanne Altmann (D-Great Neck) and members of the Democratic Majority are calling on U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton to oppose President George W. Bush's proposed transformation of the Section 8 federal housing program. The Section 8 program provides rent vouchers to more than two million needy families nationwide, with approximately 12,000 of the vouchers administered by agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
In a letter to the two senators from New York, Legislator Altmann and his colleagues stated: "The proposal that is being touted by President Bush and his administration would provide lump-sum payments to local public housing authorities which would, in effect, reduce the amount of money for Section 8 vouchers. The proposal would replace the 1.9 million vouchers now distributed with a specific sum of money that local housing authorities would need to stretch among the Section 8 housing applicants. Obviously, we are extremely concerned about the impact of this proposal on residents of Nassau County who depend on Section 8 vouchers to assist them in finding suitable housing. We ask that you oppose these proposed changes to Section 8 and any other amendments that would jeopardize the funds that many Long Islanders rely upon to ensure a better quality of life."
In addition, Legislator Altmann said that the proposal would eliminate several important requirements: first, that families pay no more than two-fifths of their income in rent; and second that three-quarters of the vouchers go to families who are the most in need. It also omits the federal quality standards that were implemented to ensure the apartments and houses in which Section 8 families live meet and maintain a specific standard.
"The federal government cannot place a further burden on this country's most needy," said Legislator Altmann, "especially in these tough economic times."
Currently, the formula guarantees renters pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent, said Altmann. Under the proposal, tenants of Section 8 housing would have to pay a larger share of their rent or would lose their housing vouchers.