It’s No Time to Cut Housing

An editorial in today’s New York Times chides lawmakers for considering cuts to HUD programs and asks Congress to “shor[e] up the precious few federal programs that provide affordable housing for the poor, the elderly and the disabled” in this time of record homelessness and continuing economic instability.

The Times outlines the challenges facing public housing and other HUD programs: a $25 billion backlog in repair that has been building since the 1990s; the House funding proposal for HUD which would make deep cuts to vouchers and other programs; and the funding bill debated by the Senate last week which would make even deeper cuts to programs serving extremely low income households.

Cuts to Tenant Based Rental Assistance (vouchers) and Project Based Rental Assistance are of particular concern. As we reported in Memo to Members, the Senate bill “would not provide sufficient funding to renew all vouchers in use in the Tenant Based Rental Assistance program,” and “would also cut TBRA Administrative Fee to $1.4 billion, which is $250 million lower than the President’s request. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials reports cuts in Administrative Fees will force PHAs to reduce staff, which could result in slower voucher processing, decreasing the number of vouchers in use and, ultimately, a loss of vouchers.”

Project Based Rental Assistance would fare no better, with insufficient funding provided by the Senate bill. A too-low level of funding means “HUD would either have to fund some contracts and not others, or would have to provide short-term contracts instead of full-year contracts. Providing short-term contracts diminishes participating property owners’ confidence in the program and encourages contract opt-outs.”

Cuts to HUD programs of the magnitude proposed would have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable individuals and families in our community. In the long term, continued cuts of this nature would cripple the decades of investment our nation has made in ensuring our lowest income neighbors have access to safe, decent, affordable housing. We must let our Members of Congress know that this is no time to abandon those in the greatest need.

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