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Pennsylvania Housing Alliance Rejects State Funding Cuts

Following the state's budget cut of $160 million dollars this month, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania said the Corbett Administration is being foolish. Liz Hersh of the Housing Alliance said the statewide freeze hit housing programs hard.

$19.5 million was from the state's homelessness assistance program. $2.5 million dollars is now gone from legal aid to help people stay in their homes.

Hersh said the latest cuts confuse expenses and investments.

"We're all ending up paying more, because we don't do the little things, we end up doing the big things," Hersh said. "Like, we'd much rather be paying for accessible housing and homelessness prevention than shelters and nursing homes for people who don't want to be there."

She calls the cuts penny-wise.

"Instead of spending $15,000 to help someone who just needs some accessibility features for their house, instead of spending that, we end up spending $45,000 to put them in a nursing home where they don't want to be," Hersh said.

Hersh says the freeze took money out of a program that helps senior citizens and people with physical disabilities have their homes retrofitted so that they can stay there. Other cuts affect homelessness prevention, domestic violence counseling, and legal aid to help people stay in their homes.

The administration argued that tax revenues are down and the governor and other lawmakers warn this will be another difficult budget year. Hersh wished the governor would commit funding to housing programs, which were cut by 5-10 percent. She said a possible dedicated source of funding for housing programs could come from a Marcellus Shale impact fee for natural gas drillers, should the House and Senate agree on such a tax.