The Obama Administration’s False Excuses on Affordable Housing Hurt Families Like Mine: Why I’m Suing

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Commentary Human Rights

The Obama Administration’s False Excuses on Affordable Housing Hurt Families Like Mine: Why I’m Suing

Danielle Stelluto

You think raising toddlers as a single mom is difficult? Try doing it without a home.

You think raising toddlers as a single mom is difficult? Try doing it without a home.

I have been going through the shelter system since 2010, stuck in a revolving door of shelters, city systems, federal systems, temporary jobs, odd jobs, different schools for my children, and more.

I have two small children—my son is five, and my daughter is three. The economy hit my family pretty hard, and I work every job I find to keep us afloat. Making $10 per hour as an at-home care worker for an elderly woman just doesn’t cover rent.

Despite the fact that three million Americans will experience homelessness this year, President Obama’s Federal Housing and Finance Administration (FHFA) has refused to fund one of the best lifelines to affordable housing we have at the federal level: the National Housing Trust Fund.

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I keep working, but my jobs don’t pay the rent.

On July 8, I joined a national lawsuit against the FHFA and its acting director, Ed Demarco, to demand these funds be restored. I joined to give voice to the millions of Americans like me left out of President Obama’s economic recovery.

I never thought I would be homeless. I work hard for my family and I want a better life for them.

When I first lost my job as a telemarketer in Florida and made the hard decision to move home to New York, we were placed in a shelter in the Bronx. I was qualified for the Child Advantage Program, which would give me two years in an affordable home before turning into a spot in Section 8 housing.

But just one year later the voucher program was discontinued by Mayor Bloomberg, and our shot at a home was destroyed.

I kept a roof over our head for two additional months by taking our case to housing court. But in March of 2012, my family and I again ended up in the Prevention and Temporary Housing (PATH) shelter system. Yet again, we moved to a new school district.

I’ve been working irregular part-time jobs and, to the best of my ability, have been striving to get through. It has been extremely difficult—at times, I have felt ridiculed. Even living in a homeless shelter, I fear we could be given the boot at any moment.

As a single mother of two, affordable housing has been basically impossible to find in New York City. I lived in Florida for years, but that state does not have a safety net at all for families like mine. Regardless, uprooting my family is expensive and very difficult. I don’t know where to turn.

I’m a hard worker, and I’m actually trying everything in my power to bring myself up for my two children. I want to prosper and make the best life for them. I need stability in my life. I need affordable housing.

The Obama Administration has the money to fully fund the housing trust fund but is choosing to deny those funds for the country’s most vulnerable residents: people like me and millions of others. President Obama and his acting director for the Federal Housing and Finance Administration have withheld at least $382 million from low-income families and seniors in need.

I’ve chosen to speak up and join the Homes for All Campaign, a coalition of families, seniors, tenants, and underwater homeowners fighting for affordable housing for all Americans. We are suing the FHFA to right this wrong and restore much-needed funding to affordable housing.

With so many of us still facing a housing crisis, affordable housing needs to be a top priority—not cuts. President Obama and his administration need to stop making excuses for cutting assistance for families like mine struggling to get by.

I will keep working every day to give my children a bright future, but they deserve better. The Obama Administration, the FHFA, and FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco need to change course and fund the National Housing Trust Fund. No one should be homeless.

Right to the City also launched a petition to demand DeMarco pay back the millions owed to the National Housing Trust Fund. For more information email [email protected].