Under County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed FY 2012 budget, funding for ‘Safety Net’ rental assistance programs will increase by $1.2 million, or 17 percent, from $7.3 million to about $8.6 million.

That increase includes an extra $630,000 for the county’s housing grant program, which serves just over 1,000 households per year; an extra $467,000 for permanent supportive housing programs, which will serve just over 100 households per year; and an extra $162,000 for ‘general relief’ emergency housing assistance, which will serve 250 households per month.

Arlington County officials place great emphasis on safety net programs, which are serving those in need during tough economic times. But some are questioning whether the increases are sustainable or even appropriate given the county’s tight finances.

“Our libraries aren’t fully funded, and our roads are in terrible condition. But the cost of this program seems to keep rising,” a member of the county’s own Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission told the Arlington Connection. The Connection’s Michael Lee Pope notes that funding for housing grants has increased from $3.6 million in 2007 to $6.6 million in the current proposed budget.

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