NLIHC Congratulates Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM on her retirement from Mercy Housing

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) would like to congratulate Sister Lillian, RSM on her retirement from Mercy Housing.  After many years of a ministry in health care, Sister Lillian’s community, the Sisters of Mercy, called on her to head their new venture into affordable housing.   Since 1987 Sister Lillian has served as Mercy Housing’s  Chief Executive Officer, leading it from its first senior housing project in San Francisco to the award winning not-for-profit organization with a presence in more than 200 cities in 41 states and DC that it is today. Sister Lillian has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for her  work, including the 25th Annual Housing Leadership Award from NLIHC in 2006.

Sister Lillian has always been a great supporter of NLIHC’s work and a strong believer in our mission.  Sister Lillian has encouraged NLIHC’s work on the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign since day one, calling the National Housing Trust Fund the “game changer” for affordable rental  rental housing finance.  Sister Lillian plans to take a year “off” before she embarks on her next mission. NLIHC wishes her health and happiness and says  “…well done, good and faithful servant,” Matthew 25:21

Sister Lillian Murphy , CEO Mercy Housing and Sheila Crowly, President and  CEO, NLIHC

Sister Lillian Murphy , CEO Mercy Housing and Sheila Crowley, President and CEO, NLIHC at Sister Lillian’s retirement party, September 4, 2014, Denver

Talk of the Town: Sequestration and Housing

Sequestration is the talk of the town this week in Washington, D.C. and much of the rest of the country as we close in on the end of the first week in this new federal budget environment. The New York Times predicted early this week that people living in poverty would be hit hardest by sequestration, the ten years of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that started March 1.

The impacts of sequestration are already starting to show, with furlough notices being issued and cuts to overtime pay already begun.

Outside of D.C., communities are scrambling to cope with upcoming cuts. In Redondo Beach, CA, city leaders fear what cuts to Section 8 vouchers will do to the lowest income people in their city. Meanwhile, the local economy is dependent on defense contractors, who could also face reductions. Unemployment in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been since December 2008, but it remains to be seen what impact sequestration will have on the steady, if slow, growth the economy has seen over the last four years.

Has sequestration begun to impact your community? How has your local housing authority planned to deal with sequestration? Are you worried sequestration will cause you or a loved one to lose housing or a job? Let us know in the comments.

Talk of the Town: A Blunt Instrument

Something very serious is about to hit the United States, and it’s not a stray meteorite from outer space. It’s got the potential to impact the life of every American, but it’s going to hit low income people hardest. And as much as everyone wants to stop it, no one seems to know how.

What’s this very serious thing? It’s sequestration.

These automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal programs were supposed to be the stick that got lawmakers to agree on a more reasonable deficit reduction plan. Instead, Members of Congress and President Obama have continued to disagree over how to avert sequestration, locking heads over whether or not to include new revenue as well as cuts in a plan to balance the budget. The New York Times notes that President Obama already agreed to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts last year, making it high time to consider new revenue as an alternative to ten years of indiscriminate budget cuts.

Those on the far right have a different opinion. The Washington Post reports that a group called Americans for Prosperity are pushing House Republicans to allow sequestration to move forward. If you are a lawmaker in favor of limited government, they say, you should support the sequester.

So what’s the potential impact on housing? Reuters reports from the Senate Appropriations hearing on sequestration Thursday that HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan warned that cuts to HUD would have a tremendous impact not just on housing, but on the financial future of the nation as a whole due to the impact of housing on the economy. Secretary Donovan called sequestration a “blunt instrument,” and said that if sequestration took place, hundreds of thousands of low income and formerly homeless people would lose their access to housing they can afford, and the Super Storm Sandy recovery effort would be threatened.

Do you think Congress can act in time to avert sequestration? What alternative to sequestration do you want your Members of Congress to support? What do you think housing advocates can do to support better alternatives? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Talk of the Town: Passing the Buck

The National Association of State Budget Officers and the National Governors Association have a new report (PDF) out showing the strain federal spending cuts and increasing healthcare costs put on state budgets. In short, if the plan for deficit reduction was to pass the buck to the states, the message from the states is that it’s not working.

According to the report, states depend on the federal government for about a third of their budgets. Infrastructure, education and public safety programs have to compete with growing healthcare costs for a shrinking pool of federal aid.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has chronicled the impact of shrinking federal resources on the ability of states to provide housing for their lowest income residents. We wrote earlier this week about our research into ways state and local governments can maximize scarce housing resources to serve extremely low income households.

Meanwhile, the brewing (and largely pointless) fight over the debt ceiling means that negotiations over the budget, debt and deficit will continue well into next year. Extended negotiations mean additional opportunities for spending cuts, and as one commentator says, “if you’re not willing to inflict epic levels of suffering on the very poor, there just aren’t a lot of cuts to be had.”

How are federal budget cuts impacting your state? Have you talked with your Member of Congress or her staff about what budget cuts mean for the housing situation of low income people in your state? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Talk of the Town: Falling Off a Cliff

A scary new world of higher taxes, reduced spending and austerity politics.” That’s what many say is in store if Congress and President Obama cannot come to an agreement on what to do about expiring tax cuts and sequestration, aka the fiscal cliff.

The president released his plan for averting the fiscal cliff yesterday, which includes proposals for new spending that Democrats say is essential to stimulating the economy. Many Republicans in Congress, on the other hand, want to see entitlement reform and a pledge not to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.  Some reports, however, say that there are Republican members of Congress who want their party to be a little more flexible on taxes.

Round 1 ends in stalemate. Meanwhile, the New York Times provides us with a reality check on tax rates, showing that for all but the lowest income people, tax rates have decreased in the last 20 years.  And in The Nation, we read about the very real consequences of sequestration for people living in poverty. When you’re already standing at the edge of your own personal fiscal cliff, it doesn’t take much to push you over the edge.

What do you think of President Obama’s proposal? Do you think the president and Congress will come to agreement in time? Tell us what you think in the comments.