News Round-Up: Sequestration and the Housing Shortage

Last week, NLIHC released Housing Spotlight: America’s Affordable Housing Shortage, and How to End It. It’s a startling look into the depth of the affordable housing shortage facing extremely low income households, providing data at both the national and state levels showing the amount of housing needed is far greater than what is affordable and available to the lowest income renters.

Prior to the release of our report, HUD released a summary of its report to Congress on the worst case housing needs. As the Seattle Medium notes, the report shows 8.48 million renter households experiencing the worst case housing needs– severely unaffordable housing, substandard housing conditions or both– which represents a 43.5% increase since 2007.

The local CBS affiliate in Phoenix reports that due to the shortage of affordable rentals available to the lowest income people, three out of four of these renters will spend more than half of their incomes on housing costs.

Foster’s Daily Democrat in New Hampshire reports on the HUD worst case needs report, and notes that while rents in the state are increasing, the data shows that vacancy rates are down, adding another layer of difficulty for lower income renters.

While the data continue to show that low income renters face a severe housing shortage, the federal programs that help the poorest Americans with their housing needs are now subject to deep cuts. As the New York Times reports, sequestration, which took effect Friday, will result in hundreds of thousands of very poor households losing their housing assistance and becoming at risk of homelessness.

News Round-Up: Fighting Words

It’s time to fight for the National Housing Trust Fund.

So says the New York Times in an editorial this weekend citing the shortage of safe, decent housing affordable to the lowest income Americans as “one of America’s most vexing problems.”

Vexing is right. As National Low Income Housing Coalition analysis shows, there are only 30 units of housing affordable and available to every 100 extremely low income renters. This absolute shortage of housing has persisted and, in fact, increased over the years. The result is that these extremely low income renters are renting housing they can’t afford- the only housing available to them. And after paying for rent and utilities, 3/4 of extremely low income renter households have less than half of their income left for life’s necessities, like food, transportation and healthcare.

As dire as this situation sounds (and is), there are rays of hope when it comes to policy solutions. As the Times explains, the National Housing Trust Fund, when funded, will “create affordable housing, through rehabilitation or construction” that will end the affordable housing shortage and build on the successful efforts our nation has already made to stem the tide of homelessness.

There are two funding sources for the National Housing Trust Fund that have great potential: contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the savings from reform of the mortgage interest deduction into a credit that will benefit more middle and lower income homeowners.

The basis for proposing these two funding sources is simple: the federal government makes a significant investment in making home ownership easy for people who can already afford high-quality housing. It’s time for the government to put its housing money where the need for housing is greatest.

Think this is an idea you can endorse? You can do that right here.

Four Days, Four Reasons

There are only four days left in the year. That means just four days to make a tax-deductible charitable contribution to NLIHC for the 2012 tax year. If you haven’t done so already, here are the top four reasons you should support NLIHC:

We advocate on the issues that matter most.

From the fiscal cliff and sequestration to the housing needs of low income disaster victims, NLIHC focuses on issues that are timely and relevant. Our advocacy and analysis provide the information advocates across the country need to take action when it’s needed most.

We are uniquely committed to serving the lowest income Americans.

NLIHC is the only organization of its kind dedicated solely to socially just housing policy for extremely low income Americans. Often including seniors, children and people with disabilities, extremely low income households are the only population experiencing an absolute shortage of affordable housing.

 Our network connects and empowers housing advocates of all kinds.

NLIHC members include homeless service providers, researchers and policy makers, faith-based organizations, public and assisted housing residents and organizations, and concerned citizens. As a result, NLIHC’s work is informed by a diverse spectrum of affordable housing stakeholders, but our only obligation is to the people most in need of affordable and decent homes.

NLIHC counts on donors like you.

NLIHC is funded entirely by private donations and member dues. Because of this, we retain complete impartiality in our policy analysis and integrity in our policy recommendations. We rely on robust relationships with individuals like you to support our work.

Support NLIHC this holiday season with a donation through our secure website!

As a reader of this blog, you understand the value of decent, stable and affordable housing, especially around the holidays. We appreciate your interest in affordable housing and your advocacy for the housing needs of the lowest income Americans. Please strengthen our advocacy work with a contribution in these last four days of 2012.

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.

Meet Our Interns: Max Steininger

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Fall intern Max Steininger, a political science major at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., shares his experiences as an intern with us today.

Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’re now accepting applicants for spring 2013 internships.

Before heading to college in Washington, D.C., the need for low income housing had never really been of issue of great importance to me. Growing up in suburban Iowa, I never really considered how important affordable housing is. After a limited amount of time in D.C., I realized how widespread a problem the lack of housing is in all regions in the country. Without a home, how can anyone be expected to improve their standing in education, income or health?

These growing concerns coupled with my interest in policy and governmental relations lead me to finding the internship position at NLIHC. Since joining, I’ve experienced a great combination of direct work and discussion in regard to housing in addition to an extensive amount of work researching and compiling information about how housing organizations can best advocate for the cause.

Though I joined because of my interest in policy work, interning with NLIHC has shown me the extensive landscape of nonprofits, advocacy groups and cause-driven coalitions. The number of acronyms I was presented with seemed a bit daunting at first, but continually hearing about and interacting with such a large group of organizations helped me to learn the basic structures of nonprofits and their partner organizations well.

In addition to learning the importance and scope of nonprofit advocacy groups in government, interning has done more to teach me about the actual processes that take place within government more than any class ever could. From attending a meeting with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to just having extensive discussions with the members of the NLIHC policy team, my experience has allowed me to be surrounded by intelligent people who are passionate, well-informed, and insightful about a meaningful issue. No other work I’ve done has been so educational in a field I’m passionate about and simultaneously been so beneficial to the human condition.