Public housing serves our nation’s most critical housing needs. In 2008, 71% of households residing in public housing had incomes at or below 30% of area median income. The average annual income of a public housing family is $13,404. Put plainly, this means that without public housing, these residents would have no affordable place to call home.
There are 3,200 local public housing agencies across the country, serving communities large and small, rich and poor. These housing agencies manage and maintain over 1 million units of affordable, public housing. Very few new units of housing have been built since the 1980s. The vast majority of public housing, 90%, meets or exceeds housing quality standards. Since most public housing is more than 30 years old, it requires rehabilitation to maintain the homes and protect the public’s investment.
Picture this affordable housing in your community. Imagine you can cut away the walls or roof to see inside. A child does his homework at his mother’s kitchen table. A grandmother visits with her next-door neighbor. A man puts his own key in his own lock for the very first time.
What happens if you take all of that away?
Some in Congress seem determined to find out. Back in February, House Republicans led passage of a bill called H.R. 1, which is their funding proposal for the 2011 fiscal year (FY11). H.R. 1 would cut the Public Housing Capital Fund– used for the rehabilitation and improvement of existing public housing- by a massive 43%.
HUD, which administers public housing capital funding, estimates that 10,000 units of public housing are already lost every year because even current levels of capital funding are not enough to keep up with the repair needs of our aging public housing stock. Take away 43% of the capital fund? Suddenly that child is doing his homework on the living room floor because the roof in the kitchen leaks, and that man doesn’t even get that set of keys because the unit that was meant for him can’t be repaired and must be taken out of commission.
All eyes are on the budget negotiations being held this week between House and Senate leadership and the White House. Many here in Washington say that the final decision on FY11 funding levels will impact what’s possible for the 2012 fiscal year (FY12). What happens over the next few days could set a chilling precedent for how our government treats this important public resource, a precedent that might last for generations.
Go here to learn more about the proposed cuts to public housing and the other HUD programs at risk. Then, pick up the phone and call the congressional switchboard at 877-210-5351. Ask your Members of Congress to stop the loss of public housing by preserving the Public Housing Capital Fund and other HUD programs. Let our Outreach Team know you made the call.