City Officials Fear Reagan Housing Cuts

Cambridge housing officials have predicted that the city will be hard hit if President Reagan's proposed budget cuts, announced two weeks ago, get through Congress in their present form.

Despite Administration assurances that the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office will continue to protect those most in need, local authorities said the cuts would be devastating.

Up to 5000 low-income people served by the Cambridge Housing Authority as well as many others who need low income housing could be hurt by the proposed cuts, said Daniel J. Wuenschel, the Authority's executive director.

In an attempt to reduce budget deficits for fiscal year 1986, Reagan is asking for cuts in a wide range of housing programs, including a one year moratorium on spending for modernization of currently existing public housing projects, a 95 percent reduction in funds for the subsidized housing program, and a 10 percent cut in the community bloc grant program.

Cambridge receives sixty percent of its housing assistance budget from the federal government and about 10 percent of its population depends on public housing assistance, Wuenschel said. The Reagan cuts could cause the city to lose up to 25 percent of its allotment.


But Peter J. Centenari, a HUD spokesman, disagreed on the degree to which the cuts would impact Cambridge. "It is too premature to say how the cuts will affect Cambridge. Not everyone has all the facts," he said yesterday.

Especially Hurt

Compared to other communities, Cambridge could be especially hurt by the President's proposals, said Gordan N. Gottsche, who runs a community housing program called Just A Start, Corp. The city's relatively low tax base makes it dependent on federal and state money. While the high demand for housing has priced many local residents out of the market, forcing them to turn to public housing assistance programs.

"They're basically climinating or reducing funding for just about everything," said Michael H. Rosenberg. director of housing for the Community Development Department.

Centenari disagreed with Cambridge, officials fears. "The Secretary [of HUD] and the President are both deeply committed to expanding home ownership opportunities around the country...the government's position is to continue to provide housing for the most needy."

But Rep. Saundra Graham (D-Cambridge), who cited the importance in particular of funds or modernizing existing housing said the proposed federal outs would be "devastating." If the city cannot maintain its development, it will see them deteriorate as in the past, she said. "They car by now or they can pay later." she added.

However, "as presented, The President's HUD budget almost assuredly will not pass," said Richard S. Goldstein, counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Employment and Housing. He said the Congress would probably not such heavy cuts in housing aid.