Congressional leaders and President Joe Biden have started negotiating over raising the federal debt ceiling, with the nation facing default as soon as June 1 if they are not able to reach an agreement. Despite the serious harm that would be caused by a default, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and fellow House Republicans say they will only lift the debt ceiling in exchange for steep cuts to domestic programs, including HUD’s and USDA’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs. It is critical for advocates to reach out to their members of Congress and urge them to oppose these harmful cuts. NLIHC invites advocates to join the last day of our “Spring into Action” campaign, a two-week mobilization effort, to speak out against budget cuts and push Congress to make necessary investments in housing and homelessness programs. During this period, we encourage advocates to creatively express the importance of federal housing resources and convey to their members of Congress the devastating toll that these cuts, if enacted, would take on their communities.
Possible Spring into Action activities include creating a visual art piece, writing a haiku or other short poem, or recording a video. Post your work on social media using the hashtag #CutsHurt today, and be sure to tag your member of Congress and @NLIHC! You can also contact your members of Congress through NLIHC’s Legislative Action Center, with the option to customize the template email. If you have a multimedia piece that you would like to share with your congressional office, but cannot submit in the online form, please send it to [email protected].
House Republicans voted to approve the “Limit, Save, and Grow Act” on April 26 to temporarily lift the debt limit in exchange for reducing fiscal year (FY) 2024 spending to FY22 levels and capping future spending increases at 1% annually for 10 years, which would result in at least a 23% reduction in funding for key housing and homelessness programs. According to HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, such cuts would “represent the most devastating impacts in HUD’s history” and “make it impossible to stave off mass evictions.” Nearly 1 million households could lose HUD rental assistance, and nearly 120,000 fewer people experiencing homelessness would be served. The bill would also rescind unobligated COVID-19 relief funding and put in place rigid work requirements for some anti-poverty programs, among other harmful provisions.
While the Republican bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, its passage signified an “opening bid” in debt ceiling negotiations. President Biden met with the “four corners” congressional leadership – House Speaker McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – earlier this week to begin discussions. Congressional leaders must reach a deal to lift the debt ceiling by as soon as June 1, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, or risk a default, which could cause widespread economic turmoil.
Members of Congress must look beyond dollar amounts and grasp the human cost of the House Republicans’ proposal. Such steep budget cuts would make it much harder for people experiencing homelessness to find stable homes and put hundreds of thousands of the lowest-income renters at risk of eviction and homelessness. Housing lays the foundation for stability in all other aspects of life. Many households, if they were to lose HUD assistance, would struggle to put food on the table, stay healthy, and access employment and educational opportunities.
NLIHC encourages all advocates to contact their members of Congress and urge them to oppose House Republicans’ proposal to slash affordable housing and homelessness programs. Now is also the time to start planning creative advocacy opportunities for Spring into Action!
Here are some additional resources to consider as you brainstorm your activities:
- Check out NLIHC’s advocacy toolkit, “Oppose Dramatic Cuts to Federal Investments in Affordable Housing,” for talking points, sample social media messages, and more!
- Have writer’s block? Use the prompts in NLIHC’s storytelling resource, “Storytelling Tips and Tricks,” to find a topic for your creative piece.
- The White House published factsheets that detail the impact of House Republicans’ proposed budget cuts in each state, including the number of families that could lose rental assistance. You can highlight this number in your advocacy to emphasize the scale of the impact on constituents in your state.
- A short poem, such as a haiku, is a succinct and creative way to convey your message to members of Congress. Here is a sample haiku: Affordable homes / Can’t be on the chopping block / Tell Congress: #CutsHurt!
Post your work on social media using the hashtag #CutsHurt and #SpringIntoAction today, and be sure to tag your member of Congress and @NLIHC!
In addition, advocates should weigh in with their congressional offices with the following actions:
- 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.
Please reach out to the NLIHC Field Team at [email protected] with questions. Thank you for your advocacy!