Federal Housing Assistance Declines Despite Increase in Need

A publication by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities titled Chart Book: Cuts in Federal Assistance Have Exacerbated Families’ Struggles to Afford Housing illustrates the budget cuts to federal affordable housing programs over the past six years. Adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending on federal housing assistance in 2016 was $2.1 billion, 4.6% less than in 2010.  The number of households who are severely cost-burdened, living in severely substandard housing, and experiencing housing instability has risen over the same period.

Public housing and the HOME Investment Partnership Program have seen the largest cuts, with $1.6 billion and $1.0 billion less than in 2010. Some programs have seen increases in funding: homeless assistance ($213 million), rural rental assistance ($311 million) and Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance ($1.2 billion).

The number of families served by the Housing Choice Voucher program declined by almost 100,000 from December 2012 to June 2014. Restored funding has improved the situation, but by December 2015 there were approximately 45,000 fewer families served by vouchers than in December 2012. Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program is $228 million lower in 2016 than in 2010.

Funding has been inadequate for preserving and repairing public housing units. HUD estimated in 2010 that the repairs and renovation needed in the public housing stock would cost approximately $26 billion. The need has virtually certainly increased since then as funds for capital repairs have been cut by 53% over the last 16 years. Capital funding for repairs and renovation was $1.9 billion in 2016.

These cuts have come at a time when incomes have not kept up with housing costs. The number of very low income (VLI) renter households with incomes no greater than 50% of their area median income who spent more than half of their income on housing or who lived in severely substandard housing increased from 5.0 million in 2001 to 7.7 million in 2013. Families with children have seen the largest increase. The gap between the incomes of low-income renter households and housing costs have also resulted in a record number of school-age children – 1.36 million – who lacked a home of their own during the 2013-2014 school year and who lived doubled up with another family (1.0 million), in shelters (0.2 million), in hotels/motels (82,000), or on the street (45,000).

Chart Book: Cuts in Federal Assistance Have Exacerbated Families’ Struggles to Afford Housing is available at: http://bit.ly/1VqPbph.