Evergreen Habitat for Humanity’s executive director Josh Townsley is returning Thursday from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he and hundreds of others opposed proposed cuts to federal agencies that finance affordable housing.
Townsley, who’s led the Vancouver-based affiliate of Habitat for Humanity for seven years, joined 340 leaders, volunteers and homeowners in the nation’s capitol.
“Too many people in Clark County are already struggling between making their housing payments and buying food for their family,” Townsley said in a news release. “We are in Washington, D.C., to ask our representatives on Capitol Hill to make greater investments in affordable housing, not less.”
He met with Democratic senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, along with other legislators, to urge them to “set aside the flawed budget proposal and instead work to prioritize solutions that will end the affordable housing crisis,” the news release said.
The proposed 2019 federal budget allocates $39.2 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, down 18.3 percent or $8.8 billion from 2017 levels. This includes eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program and the Home Investment Partnerships Program because they are “duplicative or have failed to demonstrate effectiveness,” according to the budget report released earlier this week.
Heather Cochrun, community outreach coordinator for Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, said the nonprofit uses these program funds to buy land and construct homes for low-income families. It was awarded $100,000 in Home funding from the county and has applied for $250,000 in Home funding from the city of Vancouver.
Other funding sources include donations from individuals, churches and businesses, as well as grants and revenue from Habitat for Humanity ReStores. The total annual budget is $1.4 million.
Under the proposed federal budget the Corporation for National and Community Service, whose programs include AmeriCorps, would also be eliminated. Cochrun said Evergreen Habitat for Humanity uses one full-time AmeriCorps member as its construction crew lead. AmeriCorps provides a modest living allowance.
“She works on-site with our construction staff to keep volunteers safe and productive,” Cochrun said.
Without federal funding, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity wouldn’t have the position, she said.
Evergreen Habitat for Humanity is about halfway done with a 10-home subdivision called McKibbin Commons in Vancouver’s Father Blanchet neighborhood. When complete, possibly by the end of this year, it’ll house 14 adults and 27 children.