The Opportunity Starts at Home (OSAH) campaign launched a “Take Action” page enabling advocates to send pre-formatted letters to their federal elected officials urging them to provide the highest level of investment possible for federal housing and homelessness programs through the annual appropriations process.
The pre-formatted letter focuses on the negative impacts of budget cuts on housing programs and the damage that would be caused by a reprise of the “Budget Control Act of 2011.”. With rents rising, eviction filings increasing, and more homelessness in many communities, federal housing investments are more critical than ever to sustain our communities and help low-income people thrive. Congress should invest in affordable housing at the scale needed, not balance the national budget on the backs of our nation’s lowest-income and most marginalized people and families. Arbitrary budget caps on domestic spending, such as those established through the Budget Control Act, would harm our nation and make our housing crisis worse. While Congress and the White House reached short-term agreements to provide limited budgetary relief from the Budget Control Act, the low spending caps led to disinvestment in key affordable housing and homelessness programs for a full decade, preventing our nation from making the investments needed to address America’s housing and homelessness crisis.
Because of the Budget Control Act, investments in affordable housing have not kept pace with growing demand. As a result, millions of people do not have an affordable place to call home. Half a million people are living on the street, in shelters, or in their cars on any given night, and millions more are at risk. Every state and congressional district is impacted. Our nation cannot afford further cuts to these critical investments. Federal funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service programs provides essential resources to promote strong and healthy communities and help more than 5 million of America’s lowest-income and most marginalized seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, parents with children, and others afford stable and safe housing.
People of color would be hit hardest by cuts, as they disproportionately make up the population of renters with extremely low incomes. In fact, 20% of Black households, 18% of American Indian or Alaska Native households, 14% of Hispanic households, and 10% of Asian households are extremely low-income renters compared to only 6% of white non-Hispanic households are extremely low-income renters. In addition, single women renters – particularly single women of color and single women raising children on their own – are much more likely than single white, non-Hispanic men renters to have extremely low incomes.
Congress should reject proposals to cut housing benefits or create additional barriers to prevent eligible households from receiving the housing assistance they need. Proposals to cut housing benefits – whether by imposing work requirements, time limits, or rent increases – do not address the underlying causes of America’s housing and homelessness crisis: the widening gap between wages and housing costs, and a severe shortage of homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes. Imposing arbitrary restrictions on housing benefits will not create the well-paying jobs and opportunities needed to lift households out of poverty. In fact, these restrictions will make it more difficult for households to maintain employment and economic security.
Please encourage other people in your network to reach out to their federal elected officials using the letter. To send the letter, simply type in your street address and click submit. The letter will be sent automatically to your senators and representative.