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Families Risk Losing Rental Assistance as Sequestration Looms

The across-the-board federal spending cuts scheduled for March 1 would eliminate funds for more than 100,000 housing vouchers for low-income families from the 2013 budget and cut funds for public housing and homeless assistance by $300 million and $100 million, respectively.

The cuts, known as “sequestration,” would sharply reduce the number of families that receive help in affording modest rental housing, significantly increase hardship, and place more families at risk of becoming or remaining homeless.

Moreover, these cuts would come on top of those that are coming under the very tight spending caps established by the Budget Control Act (BCA), which will cut discretionary funding by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

As we’ve explained, the BCA spending caps will likely put intense pressure on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget.  Under the caps, HUD’s budget would shrink by $2.5 billion by 2021 if the BCA cuts are distributed proportionally.  That’s equivalent to eliminating rental assistance for 300,000 low-income families.

We’ve issued two new sets of resources to help explain what’s at stake for rental assistance programs.


The first, an updated and expanded series of “Policy Basics” on federal rental assistance programs, explains who receives assistance and how the programs work.  We explain, for instance, that more than half of the 5 million assisted households include elderly members or people with disabilities, and most of the rest include children.  The series includes separate offerings on each of the three major programs, the Housing Choice Voucher, public housing, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance programs.

The second resource, a set of tables with state-by-state data, shows updated estimates of sequestration cuts in major housing and community development assistance programs.