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Housing Aid Could Be Budget Casualty

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RALEIGH — There are people in the Triangle who live in places that atfirst glance might seem unlivable. That is because sometimes it is toughto find a decent home at an affordable price. Depending on what happens with thestate budget negotiations, it could get even harder.

When advocates for affordable housing met lawmakers face to face, in hopesof saving their program from the budget cutters axe, the lawmakers heardtheir chants loud and clear: "What do we want! Funding!"

"While we are cutting, fixing the budget, we must not leave our poorpeople who need housing,"says Senator Frank Ballance, D-Warren.

And who could use money from the Housing Trust Fund? Look no further thanthe home that Jacqueline Sanford lives in in Durham. Her house on CherryStreet has no air conditioning, no heat, lead paint, 52 city codebuilding violations, and her landlord will not help. And with her income,making repairs are out of the question. .

"I paid $1,332.00 [to remedy the situation] and they accepted all that money, but I still got a lettersaying I had to vacate by May 31st," Sanford says.

The State Department of Commmerce estimates there are 750,000 families inthisstate who cannot afford a safe, stable and suitable home. A third of themcannot even afford rent.

The $25,000,000 in proposed funding in the new budget is in jeopardybecause of the budget crisis. And advocates heard that nothing short ofhard-ball lobbying is acceptable.

"Stay on their backs; stay on their case; and then therefore we cancomeback next year with victories rather than coming back every yeartalking about the same problems. They ain't getting no better. This year,we are going to make a difference," Representative Larry Womble,D-Forsyth, says, addressing the protestors.