off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

You are here

House Funding Bill Cuts 140,000 Housing Vouchers

July 20, 2017 at 3:45 PM

The 2018 funding bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that the House Appropriations Committee approved this week fails to renew 140,000 Housing Choice Vouchers that low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children are now using to afford a decent home. 

These voucher losses would come at a time when the number of low-income families struggling to pay rent far exceeds the available aid.  Because housing vouchers are also critical for addressing homelessness, cuts would stall community efforts across the country to reduce such hardship.

The House bill provides $18.7 billion to renew housing vouchers in 2018.  While that’s $355 million more than Congress provided in 2017 (and $1.1 billion more than President Trump proposed in his budget), it’s $1.2 billion or 6 percent less than the $19.9 billion we estimate is needed to renew all vouchers in 2018.  The bill also cuts funding for voucher program administration by $100 million below the already inadequate 2017 level. (In 2017, state and local housing agencies will receive at least 20 percent less funding than what they’re eligible for under the HUD administrative fee formula.)

As we’ve explained, the reasons for the higher renewal cost in 2018 are straightforward.  Voucher subsidies must rise by an estimated 3.5 percent in 2018 to keep pace with the growing gap between tenant incomes and rising rent and utility costs.  (By comparison, per-voucher costs rose 3.8 percent from the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017, the latest quarter for which we have data.)  In addition, the number of vouchers that families are using and must be renewed next year will grow modestly because HUD recently issued new vouchers — including some aimed at helping homeless veterans or preserving former public housing units under the successful Rental Assistance Demonstration — that will need renewal funding for the first time in 2018.  Overall, the cost of renewing housing vouchers will thus rise to $19.9 billion, we estimate.

The consequences of a 6 percent shortfall in renewal funding are well known, as the program faced a 6 percent shortfall after the sequestration budget cuts took effect in 2013.  Housing agencies across the country stopped reissuing vouchers to needy families when others left the program, thereby cutting the number of families they assisted and lengthening families’ stays in homeless shelters.  By mid-2014, agencies were assisting 80,000 fewer households than before sequestration.  Moreover, the cuts likely would have worsened if policymakers hadn’t significantly boosted funding in 2014 and 2015, enabling agencies to stem the losses and begin restoring vouchers to families.

To avoid repeating such losses in 2018, Congress must improve on the House bill as funding legislation moves through Congress.

Housing Vouchers at Risk Under House Bill, by State
    House Bill
State Number of Families Using Vouchers, 2017 Estimated number of vouchers renewed, 2018 Estimated number of vouchers left unfunded, 2018
Alabama 30,930 29,012 -1,918
Alaska 5,122 4,804 -318
Arizona 21,778 20,428 -1,350
Arkansas 20,815 19,524 -1,291
California 304,493 285,614 -18,879
Colorado 29,687 27,846 -1,841
Connecticut 37,024 34,729 -2,295
Delaware 4,609 4,323 -286
District of Columbia 11,360 10,656 -704
Florida 101,349 95,065 -6,284
Georgia 55,284 51,856 -3,428
Hawaii 10,024 9,403 -621
Idaho 6,632 6,221 -411
Illinois 94,218 88,376 -5,842
Indiana 36,232 33,986 -2,246
Iowa 20,817 19,526 -1,291
Kansas 11,497 10,784 -713
Kentucky 31,725 29,758 -1,967
Louisiana 47,760 44,799 -2,961
Maine 12,006 11,262 -744
Maryland 47,628 44,675 -2,953
Massachusetts 84,148 78,931 -5,217
Michigan 55,097 51,681 -3,416
Minnesota 31,291 29,351 -1,940
Mississippi 25,633 24,044 -1,589
Missouri 40,607 38,089 -2,518
Montana 5,812 5,452 -360
Nebraska 11,561 10,844 -717
Nevada 15,318 14,368 -950
New Hampshire 9,695 9,094 -601
New Jersey 69,979 65,640 -4,339
New Mexico 12,360 11,594 -766
New York 226,830 212,767 -14,063
North Carolina 58,863 55,213 -3,650
North Dakota 6,441 6,042 -399
Ohio 91,728 86,041 -5,687
Oklahoma 23,352 21,904 -1,448
Oregon 33,629 31,544 -2,085
Pennsylvania 78,235 73,384 -4,851
Rhode Island 9,455 8,869 -586
South Carolina 25,598 24,011 -1,587
South Dakota 5,426 5,090 -336
Tennessee 36,273 34,024 -2,249
Texas 148,797 139,572 -9,225
Utah 10,969 10,289 -680
Vermont 6,508 6,105 -403
Virginia 46,342 43,469 -2,873
Washington 52,822 49,547 -3,275
West Virginia 13,642 12,796 -846
Wisconsin 27,305 25,612 -1,693
Wyoming 2,546 2,388 -158
Total 2,241,246 2,102,289 -138,957
Note: Number of families using vouchers is as of first quarter 2017. Totals include data for four U.S. territories.
Source: CBPP analysis of HUD and BLS data.
Topics: 

SHARE