Sequester cuts impacting heating, housing and other low income assistance programs

Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana administers many programs, including Mutual Self-Help Housing. Funded primarily by federal grants, it's already seeing the effects of sequester budget cuts. - file photo Katrin Frye

Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana administers many programs, including Mutual Self-Help Housing. Funded primarily through federal grants, it’s already seeing the effects of sequester budget cuts. – file photo Katrin Frye

Rental, housing, and energy assistance programs for low income families are seeing the ripple effects of the sequester budget cuts. The non-profit Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana operates a myriad of programs ranging from job training to tax help and housing assistance. Executive Director Doug Rauthe says his agency is one of 10 in the state and offers programs like job training, energy assistance, affordable housing, stay-at-home options for low income seniors, and financial education opportunities. Funding comes from federal grants and contracts administered by the state, foundation grants and some fee for service programs.

Rauthe said they’ve already cut programs because of sequester budget cuts. He said they’re not taking any more applications for section 8 rental assistance, they’ve got less money for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIEAP, and they’ve cut the weatherization program in half.

“There are commentators that believe nothing happened when Sequester happened. The fact is it takes time for those impacts to actually be obvious, and I think that as we get into the next winter season, the Sequester from this year is going to be very, very obvious in people’s personal lives,” Rauthe said.

Rauthe said Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana helped l3,000 people, 6,000 families last year. He said his biggest concern with impending funding cuts is not a smaller budget, but cuts made arbitrarily.

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