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off the charts

Housing Squeeze Tightens Further Under Sequestration

Demand for rental housing has surged even as the supply has shrunk, the New York Times reports today, and the budget cuts under sequestration “are only adding to the problem, hitting housing programs especially hard.”  Indeed, as we pointed out last month, the long wait for housing assistance is getting longer under sequestration.  The cuts could eliminate vouchers for as many as 185,000 low-income families by the end of next year (see chart).


More than 2.1 million low-income households use vouchers to rent modest private-market housing at an affordable cost.  But only 1 in 4 households eligible for any type of federal rental assistance receives it because of limited funding.  Low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and working families with children eligible for the voucher program often must wait years for assistance.

The sequestration cuts instituted March 1 have worsened the problem, leaving state and local housing agencies with insufficient funds to renew all vouchers in use.  Many agencies have stopped reissuing vouchers when families leave the program.  We estimate that 40,000 to 65,000 fewer low-income families now have vouchers than in December 2012.  These cuts will deepen considerably in 2014 if sequestration continues.

The harsh impacts on people who need housing assistance are just one reason why policymakers need to reduce or eliminate the sequestration cuts in non-defense programs.