Opinion

Occupiers eligible for federal homeless aid

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Bob Barr
Former Congressman (R-GA)
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      Bob Barr

      Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He was known as a staunch advocate for limited government and individual liberty --- passions which continue to be the hallmark of his post-congressional work as a practicing lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, and as a widely-read and listened to public speaker and columnist. His reputation in support of individual privacy earned him the moniker “Mr. Privacy” from the late New York Times columnist William Safire. Bob has published three books, including one that recounts his leadership in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, “The Meaning of Is.” Bob also teaches a course on constitutional law and public policy at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and serves as Chairman of Liberty Guard, Inc. a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.

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.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.