Housing advocates are trying to set a steely tone for upcoming Pennsylvania budget negotiations.
This month’s statewide freeze of nearly $160 million hit housing programs hard. Nearly $20 million of that was carved from the state’s homelessness assistance program, while $2 million was erased from legal aid funds to help people stay in their homes.
However, the latest cuts confuse expenses and investments, said Liz Hersh of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.
“We’re all ending up paying more,” she said. “Because we don’t do the little things, we end up doing the big things. 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.”
The state’s tax revenues, though, are down. And lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett are warning it’s going to be another tough budget year.
Housing advocates say that, depending on whether the House and Senate agree on a Marcellus Shale impact fee for natural gas drillers, a dedicated funding stream for housing programs could come from fee revenue.