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Senate Trims Homeless Aid by $35 Million

May 29, 1987|DAVID LAUTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Senate, after a furious round of lobbying and compromising Thursday, approved a measure to provide $190 million in emergency funds for programs to house the nation's homeless.

Earlier in the day, a $225-million homeless aid proposal had been defeated on a 47-46 vote, reversing a stand taken a month earlier by the Senate and leaving advocates for the homeless "incredibly disappointed and enraged," said Maria Foscarinis of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

The retrenchment was the result of increasing protests about high-ticket domestic programs that would worsen the national budget deficit.

Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), one of the architects of the original measure, called the compromise a "prudent response to a pressing need."

"Now that spring is here, stories about the suffering of the homeless have moved off the front page and the evening news, but winter will soon be back," he said.

May Complete Work Today

The measure is an amendment to a $9.4-billion catchall spending bill that the Senate leadership hopes to complete work today. The House-passed version of the money bill includes $425 million for homeless aid programs. A Senate-House conference will try to work out the difference. Counting money already in the Senate bill for mental health services for the homeless, the Senate homeless aid package now totals $325 million.

The Senate measure provides $50 million in rent subsidies for homeless families with children, $40 million to rehabilitate substandard single-room occupancy hotels and $20 million for homeless veterans. About $80 million is allotted for a new "transitional housing" program to provide a way station for families that are ready to move out of shelters but not yet able to find their own homes.

In April, the Senate voted 85 to 12 for a more expensive package of homeless programs. That vote, however, only set the programs up, and a separate vote was needed to provide the funding for them.

Thursday morning, Cranston and Sen. Alphonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) offered a measure for housing money, but it came up short.

The defeat led to a series of meetings that culminated when Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) offered the $190-million compromise.

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