Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A voice for housing rights in Montana

Likely it took courage for Susan Floerchinger of Bozeman, Montana to write a letter to the Billings Gazette telling off the Republicans for cutting a homeless veterans' housing program. At first I thought it was a staff editorial, and, alas, it isn't, but she wrote a lovely letter and it deserves to be read.

Per a quick search, Ms. Foerchinger is an organizer in a Montana outpost of the National Association of HUD Tenants. [P.S. They probably mean the National Alliance of HUD Tenants.] I hope we hear more from her.

The first paragraph seems a little garbled -- possibly not the writer's fault -- but here's the good bit:
"This is a slap in the face of the men and women who laid down their lives to protect our homes. We are going to toss them out like last week's bath water. Shame on the U.S. government. Maybe we should just lower their salaries to minimum wage and see what kind of response we get on these budget cuts when they have to face the harsh reality that the U.S. is falling behind in providing for her own people. Funny, we have plenty of money to give away to foreign countries, but we can't or won't house our needy.

When will the 95 percent of the population that wants to pretend this won't affect them wake up and call Rep. Denny Rehberg and demand full funding for HUD. Here is the phone number: 202-225-3211 for his D.C. office, or call here at home via 888-232-2626. That phone really doesn't weigh 500 pounds. You can even call after hours and leave a message. No one but you and the congressman will know you called. So what is stopping you? No phone? No desire to stay warm until spring? Or just don't believe that they are really going to take dollars from Montana housing?"
Sad, that "no one but you and the congressman" part. She has to address people's fears of what their neighbors or bosses will think. But maybe some of them will call.

Y'know, some of the very first social welfare programs in history were veterans' pensions. I think we'll be seeing more of Ms. Foerchinger's kind of indignation as it becomes clearer that the Republicans include veterans in their general contempt for working people.

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