Offering a Christmas Eve preview of his budget, President Clinton on Wednesday announced that he is asking Congress for a 40 percent increase next year in aid to the homeless.
“As long as there are children waking up in America on Christmas morning without the comfort of a warm home, we have more work to do,” Clinton said in a statement released by the White House.
For several years, Clinton has presided over declining budgets in homeless aid, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s main programs to help the homeless find housing and become self-sufficient totaled $1.12 billion in 1995, falling to $823 million for the current fiscal year.
In next year’s budget, Clinton is proposing to raise the amount to $1.15 billion, including $958 million to localities for homeless programs and $192 million in rental assistance vouchers.
The administration will not unveil the bulk of its budget until February, but Clinton and HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday gave a sneak preview of part of it - the second time in recent days that senior administration officials have highlighted homelessness programs. On Monday, Vice President Gore joined Cuomo in announcing $700 million in grants to various community programs to combat homelessness.
The figure announced Wednesday is the amount the administration proposes to distribute in fiscal year 1999.
Advocates for the homeless said HUD had proposed $1.7 billion next year, but that figure was scaled back by the Office of Management and Budget. Cuomo denied he was seeking far more than the $1.15 billion proposed by Clinton, and said HUD and OMB reached an agreement on a figure.
“I could not be happier,” Cuomo said in an interview. “This is a presidential priority.”
Cuomo said the money will go to programs supported by community organizations. “This is not saying government is gong to solve this,” said Cuomo. “The community is going to solve this.”