Seniors asking federal government to protect their low income housing

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Photo/Anthony Victoria: Residents of TELACU’s Buena Vista home in San Bernardino marched on June 27 to denounce proposed cuts to low income senior housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing slashing 13 percent of funding appropriated that helps fund program such as Section 202--a subsidized housing initiative that focuses on providing more resources to seniors.
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Battling the scorching heat and incoming traffic, residents of the TELACU Buena Vista home in San Bernardino marched Tuesday to denounce proposed cuts to low income senior housing.

About 40 low income senior residents marched down Wier Road and Waterman Avenue a little after 10 a.m. in solidarity with other demonstrations across the country, explained Resident Manager Teresa Villarreal.

Senior housing and long term care providers are hoping to dissuade Republican lawmakers from reducing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget by 13 percent, as was proposed by President Donald Trump back in March. Villarreal argues such cuts will affect the Section 202 program–a subsidized housing initiative that focuses on connecting low income seniors to health and social services.

“The residents would lose their housing, which in turn will contribute to our region’s growing homeless problem,” Villarreal said. “It’s important that [HUD] reconsider cutting the Section 202 program.”

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Villarreal said many of the residents who live in the Buena Vista complex receive minimal income, mostly from social security benefits. TELACU, which was founded in 1968 to revitalize low income communities, collected approximately $15 million from HUD in January to help residents receive enhanced health and social services.

Without HUD assistance, TELACU’s low income senior tenants will be on their own with little chance to survive, Villarreal surmises.

“Without this program, how will our residents pay for their rent and health costs?”

In addition to marching, Buena Vista’s seniors are writing to U.S. House and Senate representatives to ask for their help to save the Section 202 program.

Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) argues Trump’s budget request will punish the region’s working families and seniors to benefit the country’s “wealthiest Americans.”

“This critical housing program is the difference between our most vulnerable residents having roofs over their heads and living in the streets,” Aguilar said in an e-mailed statement. “I have and will continue to fight against the president’s destructive policies that threaten Inland Empire families.”

Senior Alfredo Sarmento believes the Section 202 program provides him the support necessary to live a decent life.

“I’d like President Trump to give us the support needed to enjoy our final years,” Sarmento expressed. “We deserve to live with dignity.”

Ramesh Biswas, 72, said he participated in Tuesday’s demonstration because he wants to fight for his right to decent living.

“We are showing that we are people in need,” Biswas said. “There shouldn’t be any cuts.”

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