Community Action on chopping block in Trump budget

Director: 'Radical agenda' would gut agency

Tom Benton

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

Just
The Facts

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‘This budget… virtually eliminates a federal anti-poverty effort that has been effective and in place for over 50 years.’

- Robert Ostermeyer

ST. ALBANS — Franklin-Grand Isle Community Action (FGICA) director Robert Ostermeyer predicts as much as 20 percent of those counties’ population could be hit by cuts in President Trump’s proposed budget.

The President’s proposed budget cuts $6 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including community block grants — which funds FGICA’s electricity, basic staffing and operational costs.

If Congress approves that budget, Ostermeyer said, “it would eliminate virtually every program we have. And our ability to implement any others. Overnight.”

FGICA is an agency of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), serving the approximately 55,000 residents of Franklin and Grand Isle counties. FGICA offers housing assistance, emergency fuel and utility assistance, emergency food shelves, transportation assistance and food stamp outreach.

Ostermeyer said 12,000 people walk through its doors — walk-ins are welcome — in any given year. That’s more than 20 percent of those combined counties’ population. And while some of those walk-ins may be from the same people, Ostermeyer said just most are not.

“It isn’t chronic,” Ostermeyer said. “It’s episodic. It stabilizes and protects against the vulnerabilities that anyone on a very moderate income are going to face in a world that’s unpredictable.”

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