By Bob Barr
It’s now official: The so-called “Occupiers” protesting in cities from New York to California are eligible to be considered for homeless assistance under new guidelines issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The program through which such monies are available is called the Recovery Act Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program Recovery Plan (HPRP). HPRP was touted as a cornerstone component of the 2009 “stimulus” plan pushed by the then-newly installed administration of Barack Obama. The program’s seed money was a cool $1.5 billion, which was distributed to state and local agencies qualified to participate in HUD-administered programs designed to aid homeless persons. The purpose of HPRP, as defined in the enabling legislation, was to “provide homelessness prevention assistance for households who would not otherwise become homeless and rapid re-housing assistance to persons who are homeless.” The succinct “overall goal” was to “achieve housing stability.”
By any reasonable measure, of course — and as with other parts of the so-called stimulus plan — HPRP has failed to either stimulate jobs or positively impact the nation’s housing slump in any meaningful way. But because a number of local agencies that received HPRP funds and still have such monies available to spend have received inquiries from Occupiers for assistance, HUD recently issued “guidance” to help these agencies determine eligibility.
While the two-page “guidance” memo emphasizes that Occupiers applying for HPRP assistance are to be afforded no “special treatment” or “higher priority” than other applicants, the bottom line of the HUD memo is that Occupiers are eligible for HPRP assistance.
Interestingly, the guidance memo expressly encourages local agency personnel to visit Occupy sites as part of their due diligence to ensure only truly “eligible” Occupiers receive the federal assistance. In fulfilling this part of their responsibility, local agency reps may even have the opportunity to get the autographs of one or more of their favorite entertainment personalities — like Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore or Alec Baldwin — who have shown up at Occupy sites from time to time to raise a fist of solidarity with the Occupiers before heading back to La La Land in their limousines.
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