This message is from Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition:
President Donald Trump is expected to send to Congress a high-level budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 next week. An overview of early drafts by the Washington Post show the severity of cuts under consideration. Multiple sources confirm that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney could slash the HUD budget by as much as 14% ($6 billion)-without considering inflationary adjustments. There is a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in this country. Just one in four low income people in need of assistance, including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and veterans, get the help they need. In light of these considerations, these suggested cuts are unconscionable and unacceptable. Such draconian reductions could cause homelessness.
The proposed cuts would devastate critical programs that keep roofs over the heads of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. They are in direct contrast to Mr. Trump’s promises to revitalize distressed communities and ensure that “nobody’s going to be dying on the street” from homelessness.
Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would slash resources to repair and rehabilitate public housing developments by two-thirds. Even before these dramatic cuts, we lose an estimated 10,000 public housing apartments each year due to chronic underfunding; the capital needs backlog is close to $40 billion and grows at a rate of $4.3 billion per year. Such deep cuts would allow properties in which billions of dollars have been invested over decades to fall further into disrepair. Communities would lose a long-standing asset that has provided millions of people a place to call home and that-with the proper investment-can continue to do so for generations to come.
The proposed cuts to Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance could result in more than 200,000 families losing that critical support. Many would be forced to pay even more of their limited incomes on rent, having insufficient resources left for food, healthcare, transportation and other basic needs. Others would be unable to cover the increased cost of their rents and would face the destabilizing impact of eviction, which has especially damaging effects on children and their ability to succeed in school. In the worst cases, these families will become homeless, reversing the gains made in recent years to reduce homelessness in America.
Mr. Trump further proposes cutting resources that provide thousands more affordable homes for the lowest income seniors and people with disabilities. This would put residents at an especially high risk of eviction and homelessness, make it difficult for landlords to make their monthly mortgage payments, and erode the public-private partnerships that make these rental homes possible.
While Native Americans have some of the worst housing needs in the U.S.-suffering from extreme levels of poverty and substandard housing-Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would cut resources targeted to these communities by nearly a quarter.
And by eliminating block grant resources for community development and housing production, the Trump budget would undermine the ability for states and communities to address their most pressing needs.
Federal investments in affordable housing have already been cut significantly in recent years because of the low spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Funding to HUD was already $3.4 billion-or 8.4%-lower in 2016 than in 2010, adjusted for inflation. The same programs that would suffer dramatic cuts in Mr. Trump’s budget are those that have been hardest hit in recent years-public housing, community development and housing block grants, and housing for the elderly and people with disabilities.
This is the wrong approach. Mr. Trump and Congress should be increasing investments in affordable homes-not dramatically cutting resources. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) recently released report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, the U.S. has a shortage of 7.4 million affordable rental homes available to the nation’s 11.4 million extremely low income households. This means that for every 100 extremely low income households, there are just 35 rental homes affordable and available to them. As a result, 71% pay more than half of their income on rent and utilities. Despite the growing housing affordability crisis, just one in four households eligible for housing assistance receive the help they need.
The NLIHC-led Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding recently released a new report, A Place to Call Home, showcasing the latest research on how access to affordable housing boosts economic mobility, reduces poverty and homelessness, improves health outcomes, and strengthens the economy by supporting local jobs and increasing wages. The report estimates that more than 500,000 jobs were supported through HUD investments in 2015 alone. It also features more than 100 success stories of how families and communities have benefited from federal investments in affordable housing-from the very programs that the Trump budget proposes to cut.
These proposed cuts are unacceptable, and Congress must soundly reject them. We call on HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to uphold the commitments he made during his confirmation process. At that time, Dr. Carson said, “We need to be cognizant of our fiscal responsibilities as well as our social responsibilities. Safety net programs are important. I would never abolish one without having an alternative.” We couldn’t agree more. Dr. Carson must uphold his commitment to “house as many families as possible in safe, affordable housing…and look for ways to expand affordable housing options everywhere” by urging Mr. Trump and Mr. Mulvaney to reverse these harmful cuts before submitting a budget proposal to Congress.
Furthermore, Mr. Trump and Congress must lift the spending caps with parity for defense and non-defense programs and ensure the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing. We cannot afford to balance our budget on the backs of low-income people. Instead, we must invest in the resources that families and communities need to thrive.
Join NLIHC and other leaders of CHCDF for a webinar on March 20 at 4pm to learn more about the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget and how you can help protect these critical resources.