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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 7, 2009 at 4:02 PM

The state budget

Keep the Housing Trust Fund

Recent news about our state’s looming budget deficit signals the need to make deep cuts in critical areas. Resources vital to economically healthy communities are under threat of elimination. A case in point is the state’s Housing Trust Fund, an initiative that has an exemplary performance record. The fund has consistently been a catalyst for making affordable housing available to the growing number of people whose employment and income makes affordable housing an evermore-elusive goal.

The housing crisis so prominent in other regional economies is now permeating our own, which typically has been more resilient. The prudent thing to do is to place a priority on opportunities to acquire land and move affordable-housing efforts forward. Unfortunately, we are staring at the harsh but very real possibility of slashing the Housing Trust Fund by 50 percent. This response will have devastating effects on advances currently in progress, and will squeeze the production of affordable housing with latent sacrifices compounded for years to come.

We are living in unprecedented times. Cuts and sacrifices are inevitable and necessary. But with so much to cut, there is also extraordinary importance attached to the criteria by which our leaders judge the merits of worthwhile programs. Whatever those criteria, they should openly acknowledge and give weight to the effectiveness of the Housing Trust Fund and the fundamental equity issues it addresses. The fund is an achievement ahead of its time and one in which Washington state should take justified pride.

This is a year to regain our collective foothold. Let’s keep the momentum on those efforts that contribute substantially to Washington’s uniquely progressive national reputation. Let’s use the intelligence and resourcefulness for which we are equally well known to passionately advocate for creative and effective approaches to make up for our budget shortfalls and minimize losses to the Housing Trust Fund.

— Marty Kooistra, Seattle

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