Todd’s statement at Tuesday’s Town Hall Meeting

For those who didn’t attend the Town Hall Meeting on Affordable Housing and Emergency Shelter, here is the statement SCCAP Executive Director Todd Lare made to the City of Bloomington Commission on Community and Family Resources:

This is a statement on behalf of the South Central Community Action Program. We’ve served low-income households since 1965 and have been both a developer of affordable housing and a landlord of affordable housing.

The results of the most recent survey of our clients in 2007 identified emergency rent, utilities and shelter as their highest need, ranked No. 1 — above such other high-priority necessities as food or nutrition needs, health-related or medical needs, and transportation needs. 49.8 percent of those surveyed said they had major needs for emergency rent, utilities and shelter.  

In addition, 19.3 percent of the surveyed households said they had major needs for housing situation improvement, which refers to residing in housing that is unsafe or needs repairs or has other livability issues.We had 812 surveys returned, so we think this gives a good indication of our clients’ needs.

 The need for additional affordable housing in Bloomington and Monroe County was also evident earlier this month when the South Central Community Action Program opened its Section 8 housing wait list, resulting in families waiting outside our office overnight in hopes of being among the 70 households added to the wait list. Unfortunately, we had far more people wanting to be added than we had spots available, so we had to close the waiting list two hours after our office opened in the morning.

In general, our staff who work with low-income households see tremendous need for additional emergency shelter, transitional housing and affordable housing. We believe that affordable housing should be available in locations where people want to live.

Even as we continue to see new and nicer apartment buildings rise in the city, the lack of affordable units for average working people and for those who are unemployed or underemployed isn’t being adequately addressed. We continually see situations where landlords can make more money by charging college students by the bedroom, so units aren’t available at prices affordable to most local families. In addition, affordable housing is a major problem for people with disabilities and those with criminal records seeking to reintegrate into society.

There is much more to be said, of course, about all of these situations and needs, so we appreciate the Community and Family Resources Commission convening this Town Hall Meeting and other future meetings and hope our agency can play a role in addressing the problems discussed here tonight.

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