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President’s Budget Proposal Puts Vulnerable Populations At Risk

NETWORK ACTION ALERT March 17, 2017
Action Alerts are shared through our networks via the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging www.n4a.org, the National Community Action Partnership www.communityactionpartnership.com & National Community Action Foundation www.ncaf.org You are receiving this alert because you’ve told us you care about community action issues and believe in helping people to be independent and advocating for those who can’t.

 

Yesterday, President Trump sent to Congress the first outline of his discretionary spending plan for FY 2018. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), which represents the nation’s 622 Area Agencies on Aging that develop and deliver local aging programs and services to millions of older adults and their caregivers, is gravely concerned about how the budget could affect vital community supports.

Likewise, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Community Action Foundation, the organization charged with advocating for local Community Action Agencies in Washing, David Bradley, said that President Trump’s budget strikes core community programs that have broad bipartisan support across the United States. Programs, he says, that are crucial to every community in the United States.

The Trump’s preliminary budget eliminates or drastically cuts major programs that help low-wage earning families and older adults. Released yesterday, the plan does not drill down far enough to know how the Older Americans Act nutrition, in-home services, transportation, case management, long-term care ombudsman, elder justice and other vital programs will fare under the next, more detailed version of the Trump budget. However, we have tremendous concern that the elimination and cuts to Health and Human Services, among other vital programs and departments, could spell disaster for all discretionary programs serving the most vulnerable populations. Below is a non-exhaustive list of the services or programs targeted for elimination or drastic cuts that will affect the communities we live in and serve.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, helps low-income older adults afford their utility bills, so they can keep the lights on and stay warm in the winter and safely cool in the summer. While the program is not limited to seniors and helps a wide range of low-income households, the loss of this funding of more than $3.4 billion would directly hurt the seniors who receive the financial help. Typically underfunded, Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike.
The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which just celebrated its fortieth year in existence, makes homes healthier, safer and more energy efficient. This program saves money for families while simultaneously curtailing the US energy consumption and creating jobs.    

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which is Title V of the Older Americans Act and administered by the Department of Labor, would also be eliminated in the Trump budget. Losing this $434 million program—the only federal job training program focused on the unique needs of older workers—would immediately affect the approximately 70,000 age 55+ workers who receive skills training, job placement help and subsidized community service jobs annually. Without SCSEP, these very low-income seniors would struggle to find the employment that they need to make ends meet. The tens of thousands of community agencies who host many SCSEP workers would also lose millions of hours of staff support, making it more difficult to achieve their missions to serve older adults, children and youth, and other members of their community.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG, administered by HUD), works to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, & to create jobs through the expansion/retention of businesses. CDBG is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities. To a limited degree, some localities use CDBG to supplement their existing home-delivered meals programs (often branded as “Meals on Wheels”). The dominant funding source for home-delivered meals to seniors in every community across the country is the Older Americans Act (OAA) and we do not know how OAA will be affected at this time.

The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG, administered by HHS) provides more than one-thousand anti-poverty organizations with flexible funds to improve community health and living conditions for low-income families and seniors by funding free-standing programs. The flexibility allows communities to respond quickly to national disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts. Also, when there is not enough funding in another community program to meet demand, CSBG funds provide supplemental support to expand the reach and impact of the existing program. For those age 55 and older, these services may include home-based household and personal care activities, nutritious home-delivered or congregate meals, Adult Protective Services or transportation to and from medical appointments. Approximately one in five individuals served by CSBG are age 55 or older and almost 8 percent are age 70 or older, which means roughly $56 million of CSBG’s total funding of $715 million is directed to helping low-income older adults stay safe, healthy and living independently in the community. CSBG provides services ranging from food assistance to job training to more than sixteen million people in three thousand counties. This critical support would all be lost if CSBG is eliminated.

Legal Services Corp., a congressionally chartered independent agency that provided $343 million to 134 legal aid to organizations that provide free civil legal to the poor facing cases like wrongful eviction, custody disputes, child support or domestic violence. The program provides lawyers to individuals earning 125 percent or less of the federal poverty guideline, which is currently $15,075 for individuals.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), an independent agency which runs popular Senior Corps programs, specifically Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and RSVP. Senior Corps is the only national program able to place large numbers of senior volunteers in high-quality volunteer positions, generating 96 million hours of service to communities. When older volunteers provide vital services in their communities, it also helps those volunteers remain engaged in society. Given the health benefits of volunteering, this is a win-win for older adults and the communities they serve.

We are asking you to stay engaged in this process and ask Congress to reject these dangerous cuts to vulnerable individuals. Call and share your personal stories, how it may affect you or a loved one, or why you are concerned about the proposed cuts. The budget presented is the first step in months of negotiations leading to a more detailed spending proposal in May. We have the opportunity and ability today to tell Washington what is important to us, to our families and to our communities. United States Senators represent the entire state, Indiana’s senators are: Joe Donnelly https://www.donnelly.senate.gov/ and Todd Young https://www.young.senate.gov/ . The U.S. House of Representatives 1st Congressional District Congressman is Pete Visclosky https://visclosky.house.gov/ . If you are not in northwest Indiana, use https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members to find your congressman or congresswoman.