By Molly Harbarger mharbarger@oregonian.com The Oregonian/OregonLive

Oregon could lose $80 million a year in federal housing funding in the proposed White House budget, and the hit to the Portland area could be disastrous for low-income veterans, seniors and families, elected leaders and advocates warned Friday.

The potential cutback for Multnomah County would be about $20 million a year, money now counted on to help homeless people find permanent housing, keep families on the cusp of losing housing off the street and enable nonprofits to buy and develop affordable housing.

That’s housing that people like Annie Calhoun needed during her fight with pancreatic cancer. She said Friday that public housing prevented her from being homeless when she lost her income and independence, along with some part of her pancreas, her entire spleen and some teeth.

“I’m a tough cookie, but if I didn’t have a stable home to rely on, I don’t know that I would be here talking to you,” she said.

Calhoun told her story in McCoy Park at the 82-acre New Columbia affordable housing community that the Multnomah County housing authority developed beginning in 2003, in part with a federal grant.

She lives in one of 2,100 low-income apartments owned by Multnomah County. About 20,000 wait on a list for public housing. Many of the residents of New Columbia and Calhoun’s building in Sellwood are seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and families with children who can’t make enough money to keep up with Portland’s rising rents.

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