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Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) approved by voice vote a $44.1 billion FY14 spending bill that sets funding levels for key low income housing programs. HUD’s main rental programs, which assist approximately five million households, would receive $4 billion less than the minimum amount required to maintain current levels of service.
Coming on top of the cuts from sequestration, the House THUD appropriations bill as passed by the subcommittee today moves the House a step closer to dismantling the housing safety net for the poorest Americans.
Insufficient funding as proposed in the bill will result in the loss of 100,000 housing vouchers and threatens contracts on project-based Section 8 properties. Particularly troubling are below sequestration levels for the public housing capital fund, Native American Housing Block Grants, Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA), and Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811). The bill makes unprecedented cuts to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Housing Investment Partnership Program (HOME), both of which provide essential aid to low income communities.
As dismaying as these cuts are, they are not unexpected given that the House THUD Subcommittee FY14 allocation from the full Appropriation Committee is 15% lower than the FY13 amount. House appropriators are operating with less funding for low income housing and other domestic discretionary programs as they shift funds to defense funding to try to make up for sequester driven defense cuts.
Also discouraging is the Subcommittee’s decision to again propose to raise rents for 700,000 households with people who are elderly or have a disability by changing allowable deductions for medical expenses.
There is a nationwide shortage of 7.1 million rental homes that are affordable and available for extremely low income households (incomes of 30% or less of the area median). This is the primary reason that homelessness persists in the United States. At a time when millions of low income families are spending unsustainably high portions of their incomes on housing and waiting lists for housing aid are years long, it is unconscionable for Congress to make even deeper cuts in core housing programs that serve poor elders, people with disabilities, and families with children.
The full committee is expected to take up the bill on June 27. The National Low Income Housing Coalition and our members across the country will continue to advocate for America’s lowest income residents in need of affordable and decent homes as Congress moves forward with establishing FY14 funding levels.
Dr. Crowley is available for further comments.