Proposed federal cuts likely to affect programs for elderly, disabled

President Donald Trump's budget hasn't passed Congress, but it's still on the minds of many people, including Belinda and Wilbur Jefferson.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) – President Donald Trump’s budget hasn’t passed Congress, but it’s still on the minds of many people, including Belinda and Wilbur Jefferson.

The Jeffersons have lived in the same home for more than 20 years. They raised three children and many grandchildren there. Family photos line the walls of the house.

“Christmas, Thanksgiving, I mean everything we met here. They would always come here,” explained Belinda Jefferson. “This is everything we had. This is our joy. We spent most of our time here.”

Belinda was a bus driver for children with Autism for more than 11 years. It was a job she loved. She was driving one day, not realizing it would be her last day on the job.  

“I made it to Greenwood, and I ran my bus into a tree. I had an aneurysm,” said Belinda, who was forced to retire after the crash.

“I had to learn to walk, to talk. I had to learn how to do everything again,” she told 13News Now.

The medical bills piled up. Belinda no longer could keep up with the day-to-day tasks at the couple's home.

A grant, called the Community Block Grant, allowed the Jeffersons to pay for upgrades and repairs to their home, like a handicap accessible shower and a new roof.

“If it wasn’t for these programs, I don’t know how we would have made it,” stated Belinda.

The Community Block Grant is one of many programs that may be cut under Trump’s proposed budget.

“We have more people that need this sort of thing than there are resources that are to go around,” said Karen Wilds with the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NNRHA).

Wilds told 13News Now the more-than-six-billion-dollar proposed cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development is disturbing, adding that the Community Development Block Grant and the Home Investment Partnership Program typically help elderly and disabled people make home repairs. The programs also assist with other improvements within communities.

“What alternative does a person like that have, if they can’t stay in their home? They could be homeless. If their living situation isn’t good, it could affect their health," offered Wilds. "They could end up in a nursing home, and nursing homes cost a lot more than a $3,000-dollar HVAC system.”

The proposed cuts also could affect staffing at NNRHA where approximately 14 people may lose their jobs. Wilds said she is trying her to see if those employees could be reassigned.

 “It’s going to hurt," noted Belinda. "It’s going to hurt for the people that really need it.”

13News Now reached out to local Republican activist, Gary Byler who provided this statement:

The 1st rule of good public policy is beware of unintended consequences. While these programs sound good on paper we see over and over that funds are redirected to well connected millionaires gaming the system. These projects often receive large Government subsidies with very little or no benefit to truly needy. Recent project in New Jersey is perfect example. Local based charities such as Blankets for the Homeless and Hope Haven House are much more effective than federal dollars trickling down from Washington, D.C. We would be better served with local zoning policies that encourage rather than discourage affordable housing and financial assistance directly to those deserving in need.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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