With millions of renters facing unaffordable housing costs and homelessness a large problem in many areas, policymakers should fully reverse the loss of 100,000 housing vouchers due to the sequestration budget cuts. As our new report explains, the President’s 2016 budget would finish the job Congress began in 2014 of restoring all lost vouchers. Unfortunately, the budget plans before the House and Senate this week not only have no plan to fix sequestration; they’d impose further cuts in programs for low-income people such as housing vouchers.
The President’s budget would renew all of the vouchers that more than 2 million low-income families — mostly seniors, people with disabilities, and working families with children — will use this year and restore 67,000 other vouchers no longer in use due to sequestration.
It would target 30,000 of those 67,000 vouchers to reduce homelessness, provide safe homes for victims of domestic and dating violence, and prevent low-income children from being separated from their families because their family can’t afford adequate housing. This strategy of targeting vouchers on particularly urgent needs builds on the proven success of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which is largely responsible for a 33 percent drop in veterans’ homelessness between 2010 and 2014.
Also to reduce homelessness, the Obama budget funds more than 25,000 new units of supportive housing for people with disabilities who have experienced long or repeated periods of homelessness — the so-called “chronically homeless” people who live mainly on the street. These funds are essential to meet the federal goal of ending chronic homelessness within the next several years.
The President’s budget proposes to undo sequestration and, thus, can provide the resources to restore vouchers and reduce homelessness — as well as to increase support for veterans’ services, Head Start, job training, medical research, and other critical non-defense discretionary programs affected by sequestration. Congress should end sequestration and provide communities with additional resources to restore housing vouchers and reduce homelessness.