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.

What does sequestration mean for housing?

As housing advocates know, the impacts of sequestration will be felt most deeply by America’s poorest individuals and families. But how big will the cuts be? How will HUD and other agencies handle them? What can advocates like us do to ask Congress to replace sequestration with a more balanced approach to the budget?

NLIHC just created two pages on its website with all the information you need to help you understand sequestration from a housing perspective.

First, we’ve compiled a page on sequestration with links to all the necessary HUD, Obama administration, and Office of Management and Budget information. We also include links to resources from other organizations, like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. We’ll update this page regularly as agencies post new guidance and other information on sequestration becomes available.

Second, the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, a coalition of over 70 national organizations staffed by NLIHC, has its own sequestration resources specially created for housing and community development advocates. On our CHCDF sequestration page, you’ll find talking points, a Twitter campaign, and in-depth information about the housing impacts of sequestration.

Sequestration was never supposed to happen; it was a “stick” Members of Congress adopted as a way to force themselves to negotiate a budget deal. The stick didn’t work, and now we’re living with the consequences. It will be crucial for all of us to advocate this month– beginning today– for the damaging impacts of sequestration to be minimal and short-lived. Take a look at our sequestration resources, join our National Call-In Day today, and encourage your colleagues and friends to join you in this fight for a more balanced approach to the federal budget.

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.

Home for the Holidays

holidaycardIf you could ask for any gift this holiday season, what would it be?

Would you want to take a trip around the world? To have that car you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid? Or would you prefer something less tangible, like more time with the people you love?

If we could wish for any gift, the National Low Income Housing Coalition would ask for the lowest income Americans to finally have decent, affordable homes they can afford.

It’s been a difficult year for low income people. Poverty rates are high, income inequality is growing and budget negotiations have yielded little more than cuts that hurt the people who can least afford them.

We are far from seeing our wish for housing for all fulfilled, and our work has never been more urgent.  This is why, during this season of giving, we’re asking for a gift from you: a donation to the National Low Income Housing Coalition to support our work to ensure the availability of housing that will end homelessness and bring access to opportunity for families and individuals across the nation.

When you give to NLIHC, you’re giving to a unique organization that truly makes a difference in meeting the housing needs of extremely low income people. Will you put us on your gift list today?

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.