More Poor Face Shrinking Number of Affordable Units, Gonzalez Says : Democrats Blame Reagan Policies for Housing Crunch

Times Staff Writer

Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.) charged Saturday that the Reagan Administration’s housing policies are a “disaster” and have led to a shrinking supply of low- and moderate-income housing units and an increased number of homeless people.

“President Reagan’s policies are making more Americans poor,” Gonzalez said in the Democratic response to President Reagan’s weekly radio address.

If the trend continues, “there soon will be 19 million Americans who will be unable to find affordable housing,” said Gonzalez, who is chairman of the housing and community development subcommittee of the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee.

“I have visited poor neighborhoods from New York to Los Angeles, from Michigan to Texas and the story is the same: a growing number of poor people, a shrinking amount of decent housing they can afford,” he said.


Twice Reagan Request

Gonzalez commented as the House prepared to begin action this week on a $17.7-billion housing bill, which includes $350 million in food and shelter grants for the homeless. While the bill’s total budget authority is the same as that in this year’s budget, it is twice the figure the Reagan Administration supports, Gonzales said.

In his radio speech, Gonzalez said he had traveled across the country to determine how Reagan’s policies meet the nation’s basic shelter needs.

“By any reasonable standard, those policies are a disaster,” he said.


“I have heard from thousands of people with good jobs and good income who also cannot find affordable housing,” Gonzalez said. “It is not at all unusual to find people paying half their income for an apartment or a house. It is not unusual to find overcrowded housing because people, even with good jobs, are forced to double up.”

Gonzalez said if the Administration’s policies continue for a few more years, about 3.5 million units of affordable housing--one-fourth of the total supply--will be priced out of the middle-income market.

Says Funding Cut 69%

In his broadcast remarks, Gonzalez maintained that Reagan has “viciously” attacked housing programs by cutting their funding by 69%, despite a growing need. In addition, he said, the Administration has tried to kill the Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance program.

Gonzalez also estimated that almost half of the nation’s 1.9 million privately owned but subsidized housing units will be lost to low-income families in the next few years because subsidy contracts are expiring and the Administration is making little effort to renew them.

Gonzalez said the Administration is responsible for declining living standards that result when real wages fail to keep pace with the cost of living.

“During the last 10 years, the poverty rate in America has gone up by one-fourth,” he said. “Millions who once could live in comfort today cannot make ends meet.”