The Housing We Need

President Barack Obama released his FY14 budget request to Congress yesterday, which includes $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund on the mandatory side of the budget and the partial restoration of funding for some HUD programs.

As housing advocates know, the shortage of rental housing affordable to the lowest income Americans is a growing, and ongoing, problem. Our nation needs a federal housing policy that provides the path forward to ending homelessness and ensuring extremely low income people have access to the housing they need. Unfortunately, the past three budget cycles have amounted to a shifting of cuts around different HUD programs.

We cannot achieve our bold vision of ensuring that the lowest income Americans have access to decent, affordable housing if all of our energy as advocates is spent protecting existing programs from constant threat of cut. Meanwhile, 7.1 million low income families are without the affordable rental housing they need.

That is why we support funding the National Housing Trust Fund through revenue from modifications to the mortgage interest deduction. The National Housing Trust Fund is not meant to replace existing federal housing programs, like public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers, it is meant to augment them. The National Housing Trust Fund is the only federal program that would close the gap between the number of extremely low income renter households and the number of rental units affordable and available to them.

Building the housing necessary to end the rental shortage for those 7.1 million renter households may sound like a stretch, until you realize that the federal government has the resources necessary to do this- they just have to be used a smarter way. Our proposal to fund the National Housing Trust Fund uses existing housing resources, through modifications to the mortgage interest deduction, to direct revenue to the middle and lower income people who most need help with their housing costs. It’s a common sense solution to the nation’s greatest housing challenges. We hope you’ll support it.

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