The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Limit, Save, and Grow Act” (H.R.2811) on April 26 by a party-line vote of 217-215. If enacted, the bill would lift the federal debt ceiling in exchange for massive spending cuts to federal domestic programs in fiscal year (FY) 2024, including HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs.
Unveiled in the chamber last week by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and officially introduced by House Committee on the Budget Chair Jodey Arrington (R-TX), the bill proposes cutting federal domestic spending for fiscal year (FY) 2024 to FY22 levels, resulting in at least a 23% reduction in funding for key programs, depending on how cuts are designed. The proposal would also limit future spending increases to just 1% annually for 10 years, rescind unspent COVID-19 relief funds, and put in place rigid work requirements for some anti-poverty programs. In exchange for these drastic proposals, the bill would raise the federal debt ceiling until March 31, 2024, or by $1.5 trillion, whichever comes first, putting Congress in the position to restart debt ceiling negotiations all over again next year.
If enacted, the proposal – which some Democrats are calling the “Default on America Act” – would make it impossible for HUD to stave off mass evictions, according to a letter sent by HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge to House Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). In the letter, the Secretary suggests that the bill’s drastic cuts to HUD’s programs would cause nearly 1 million households currently being served by the department’s rental assistance programs to lose their housing assistance, putting them at risk of housing instability and evictions, and nearly 120,000 fewer people experiencing homelessness to receive services.
Capping future spending at a paltry 1% per year would likewise have a tremendously negative impact on the people served by affordable housing and homelessness programs. These programs must receive increased funding from year-to-year just to maintain the number of households being served. Even with recent funding increases to federal programs, many are still being impacted by the austere spending caps put in place by the “Budget Control Act of 2011.” HUD’s cumulative appropriations since FY10 are still slightly lower than they would be if annual appropriations had remained at FY10 levels and been adjusted only for inflation.
Speaker McCarthy has touted the bill as a “starting point” for debt ceiling negotiations, and while the bill will not pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, without continued pushback the draconian cuts and policies in the proposal may appeal to moderate Democrats, weakening their demand for a “clean” lift to the debt ceiling.
It is unacceptable to balance the federal budget by demanding cuts to programs that help the lowest-income households survive. There is a national shortage of approximately 7.3 million affordable, available homes for people with the lowest incomes, and only one in four households who qualify for federal housing assistance receives the help it needs. Without adequate funding for vital federal affordable housing and homeless assistance programs, households with the lowest incomes will continue to live precariously, only one missed paycheck or unexpected emergency away from housing instability, eviction, and, in the worst cases, homelessness.
In addition to scheduling in-district meetings with their members of Congress, advocates can continue to take action:
- Sign your organization on to the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding’s (CHCDF) annual budget letter, calling on Congress to reject spending cuts and instead provide the highest possible allocation for HUD’s and USDA’s affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs in FY24.
- Email your members of Congress today and urge them to increase – not cut – resources for affordable housing and homelessness in FY24 and to support NLIHC’s top appropriations priorities:
- $32.7 billion for the TBRA program to renew existing vouchers and to expand the program to an additional 200,000 households.
- $5.4 billion for public housing operations and $5 billion for public housing repairs.
- $3.8 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants program.
- $100 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions.
- $3 billion for a permanent Emergency Rental Assistance program.
- $300 million for the competitive tribal housing grants, targeted to tribes with the greatest needs.
- Check out NLIHC’s advocacy toolkit, “Oppose Dramatic Cuts to Federal Investments in Affordable Housing,” for talking points, sample social media messages, and more!
Start Planning Now for NLIHC’s May 8-19 “Spring into Action” Advocacy Campaign
NLIHC invites advocates to “Spring into Action” from May 8 to 19 during a two-week mobilization effort to oppose deep cuts in the federal budget and urge Congress to invest in affordable housing and homelessness programs at the scale needed to ensure everyone has a safe, affordable, accessible place to call home!
Be creative! Make a visual art piece, write a haiku, record a video, highlight data showing the impact of proposed cuts, or come up with your own idea to educate congressional leaders about why affordable housing and homelessness programs are important to your community, and how the proposed budget cuts would harm your family, friends, and neighbors.
Post your work on social media using the hashtags #CutsHurt and #SpringIntoAction between May 8 and May 19, and be sure to tag your members of Congress and @NLIHC!
NLIHC also has other resources you can use to start planning:
- Use NLIHC’s Legislative Action Center to host an email campaign to send a message to members of Congress. The tool allows advocates to customize the email template with a poem or other creative written message.
- Facing writer’s block? Use the prompts in NLIHC’s storytelling resource, “Storytelling Tips and Tricks,” to find a topic for your creative piece.
- If you have a multimedia piece you would like to share with your congressional office but cannot submit via the online form, please send it to [email protected].