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Better Days Ahead for Oregon’s Lowest-Income Renters?

April 1, 2008

Portland, OR - Advocates of affordable housing in Oregon say they're glad to see the resignation of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson. They say that during his four years at HUD's helm, Jackson consistently cut federal funding for low-income housing and rent-subsidy programs by changing the way the funds are distributed.

Steve Weiss of the Community Alliance of Tenants says he's been troubled by Jackson's overall stance toward low-income renters.

"Jackson's attitude displayed a great skepticism as to whether low-income renters deserve housing subsidies. He expressed distrust, implying that somehow they're always involved in cheating the program, when actual studies have shown that the amount of cheating actually going on is really very small."

Weiss hopes Jackson's departure clears the way for a change in philosophy at HUD because, he predicts, in this economy more people will find themselves in need of HUD programs.

"What we need emanating from HUD in Washington is an attitude of friendliness and support for the low-income people HUD serves with housing, and we need more of that housing."

The Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services estimates that less than half the people in Oregon who need rental assistance currently receive help.

Jackson is under investigation by Congress for ethics violations in awarding HUD contracts. He claims he has "transformed public housing" during his time at HUD and is stepping down to spend more time with family.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR