An Investment Worth Protecting

As you read in Memo to Members on Monday, the Senate T-HUD appropriations bill would provide insufficient funding to the Public Housing Capital Fund and make significant cuts to overall HUD funding. Today, we’re re-posting commentary on public housing from earlier this year. Become a member to receive Memo to Members in your inbox every Monday morning and keep up with the latest news on the FY12 budget.

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?

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 more 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.

What impact would cuts to HUD programs have in your community?

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