HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke to NLIHC annual policy conference attendees for the third year in a row on March 28, this year focusing on the difficult budget decisions that HUD is facing and HUD’s commitment to protecting current residents of public and assisted housing.
The Secretary reflected on the improvement the economy has experienced over the last year but said that despite progress, significant housing challenges remain. Citing HUD’s report to Congress, Worst Case Housing Needs, Secretary Donovan said that the housing circumstances for very and extremely low income households saw the biggest increase in history between 2007-2009 (see Memo, 2/4).
“HUD programs are the single best tool to address worst case housing needs,” said the Secretary. He described the ways that the President’s budget request for FY12 would support extremely low income (ELI) households, such as by doubling the number of new permanent supportive housing units, supporting public housing, and including portions of the Section Eight Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA) (see Memo, 2/18). Reforms proposed in the budget will result in cost savings that can then support programs serving ELI households, such as the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers requested in FY12.
The Secretary also told conference attendees that he has been fighting to fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) on Capitol Hill. NHTF has gone without permanent funds for too long, said the Secretary.
In response to Congress scaling back federal spending, the Secretary
promised, “I will not allow cuts to roll back the country’s commitment
to affordable housing.”