At his town hall meeting on Tuesday in Fort Myers Florida President Obama was confronted by Ms. Hughes, a woman with a type of problem that we are confronted with a daily basis.
Homeless, she told him that she needed a place to live with a real kitchen and a bathroom. Ms. Hughes told him that she could not afford to wait the two years necessary to get on the local public housing authority waiting list.
Listen to her plea in this video.
President Obama indicated to her that he understood her need but there were a lot of people in the country who were also suffering. He gave her a kiss, said he would do everything he could to help her and promised he would have his staff get with her to try to help.
The odds are that the agencies will scramble around and find a place for her to live. But there is a larger issue here.
There are many more people in her circumstances. The priorities that have been set in the economic stimulus bill did not do enough to provide assistance to people like her.
At the insistence of some in the U.S. Senate, billions of additional dollars were found to provide $15,000 per household tax credits for people to buy a new home. While I think this was a good idea it is a travesty that no funds were made available to endow the National Housing Trust Fund — the one program that would have provided additional affordable rental housing that would have directly addressed the housing needs of the homeless and low-income families.
Those of us who work on housing issues know how widespread the housing crisis confronting very poor families is. We hear these stories every day. The president has now heard from one such person.
He should go back and work to ensure that the millions of low-income families like Ms. Hughes are provided some housing assistance from the hundreds of billions in the economic stimulus bill.