BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Low-income families and communities would experience unprecedented cuts in housing assistance under the fiscal year 2014 funding bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that a House Subcommittee approved yesterday.
These cuts come at a time when the need for assistance is rising rapidly, as housing costs continue to outpace the incomes of low-income families (see graph). The cuts also reflect the fact that the House has adopted an overall cap on annual program spending that is consistent with sequestration and is wholly inadequate.
For major capital and block grant programs, the House bill would cut funding to historically low levels that are below even the sequestration-reduced levels of 2013:
- The House bill funds Community Development Block grants (CDBG), for example, at $1.6 billion, a cut of $1.4 billion, or 47 percent, below the 2013 level. Communities use these funds to rehabilitate affordable single-family housing; improve damaged streets, sewers, and water systems; provide community services to seniors and children; and for a host of other activities. CDBG funds have already been cut cumulatively by $2.5 billion since 2010.
- The House bill also cuts funding for HOME Investment Partnerships, a formula grant program that states and localities use to develop and preserve affordable single-family and rental housing, by $248 million, or 26 percent, below the post-sequestration level in 2013. This reduction would come on top of $1.9 billion in cumulative cuts made since 2010.
- Public housing agencies would lose $277 million, or 16 percent, of current funding for the repair and renovation of public housing developments under the House bill. The House bill also underfunds public housing operations for the third year in a row. These cuts will force agencies to delay or forgo maintenance and repairs, adding to the estimated $26 billion backlog of repair needs and forcing low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children to live in deteriorating conditions.
In other areas, the House bill will lock in for 2014 most of this year’s sequestration cuts. Because of sequestration in 2013, for example, the Housing Choice Voucher program will assist up to 140,000 fewer low-income families by early 2014. In addition, thousands of assisted families in cities and towns from New York City to Abilene, Texas, are facing steep rent increases as agencies struggle to cut their programs down to post-sequestration levels. While the House bill would increase funding to renew housing vouchers by $650 million over the 2013 funding level, four-fifths of the sequestration-related cuts in families served would remain in place in 2014.
The cuts in vouchers — like those proposed in public housing — would fall heavily on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.