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Big Sky Connection - Known as the Limit, Save and Grow Act in Washington, D.C., the federal budget bill is drawing criticism from advocates who say the measure would threaten Montana's most vulnerable, especially when it comes to affordable housing. Comments from Amy Hall, supervising attorney, Helena-based Montana Legal Services Association.

Click on the image above for the audio.  HUD's Office of Multifamily Housing Programs administers programs providing housing linked with onsite and community-based supports, including for low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. (Adobe Stock)

Advocates for the state's low-income residents say the proposal would devastate Montana's most vulnerable.

Mark Moran

May 3, 2023 - Advocates for Montana's most vulnerable residents are pushing back on a budget plan passed by the U.S. House, saying it would have disastrous consequences for people already faced with trying to find affordable housing in the state.

Lawmakers in Washington call it the Limit, Save and Grow Act. It raises the federal debt limit and reduces spending, but also cuts rental voucher funding for people struggling to find affordable housing, once known as Section 8.

Amy Hall, supervising attorney for the Helena-based Montana Legal Services Association, said the bill would cut funding for 350,000 American families, including in Montana.

"About 1,500 families in Montana would lose access to rental assistance that is provided currently," Hall pointed out. "Those would include older adults, persons with disabilities, families with children, and folks who without rental assistance would be at risk of being unhoused."

Hall explained Montana's Indigenous tribes would also lose funding. According to a White House fact sheet, 710 fewer miles of railroad track would also go uninspected next year in Montana alone, and three air traffic control towers would be shuttered if the budget bill becomes law.

Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, said proposed cuts would cause "mass evictions," adding that up to 1 million households currently being served by HUD's rental assistance programs could lose it.

Hall noted as many as 120,000 homeless Americans would lose their help, including people in Montana.

"All of us in Montana have seen the number of folks who are unhoused rise in all of our communities since COVID hit, and that would only get worse if these funding cuts go into effect," Hall contended. "There would also be cuts to tribal housing programs and HUD programs that combat discrimination."

The bill is not likely to pass in its current form, but critics worry it would give leverage to partisan budget measures in the future and have a dramatic impact on living wages for Montanans already struggling financially.