BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will likely propose deep cuts in rental assistance for families, as well as other aid for the nation’s poorest urban and rural communities, a Washington Post report has confirmed.
Our analysis of the Post’s report, which was based on a leaked preliminary Trump Administration budget document, indicates that:
- Housing Choice Vouchers that some 200,000 low-income households currently use to pay their rent would be eliminated in 2018. Housing vouchers would be funded at $19.3 billion in 2018, more than $900 million below the likely 2017 funding level (see more on 2017 funding below). Reducing the availability of this crucial support would increase and prolong homelessness for vulnerable people with disabilities, families with children, and others. In addition, cuts undermine the public-private partnership on which the program is based: landlords of tenants who lose subsidies (and are then often evicted) are less likely to participate in the program in the future, making it less effective.
- Public Housing funding would be slashed by $2 billion, or about 30 percent. Public housing already faces more than $26 billion in repair needs such as fixing leaky roofs or replacing outdated heating systems and electrical wiring. Such massive cuts would undermine the health and safety of public housing’s 2.2 million residents — the vast majority of whom are seniors, people with disabilities, or children — and sharply accelerate the loss of affordable units.
- Other rental assistance programs, such as housing for the elderly and for people with disabilities would also be cut, risking the loss of tens of thousands of privately owned affordable units at a time when the need for assistance among these groups is rising steadily as the baby boom generation ages.
- Of HUD’s four major programs that direct flexible aid to the nation’s poorest rural and urban communities, three would be eliminated entirely (HOME, Community Development Block Grants, and the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative), while funding for the fourth would be cut by 27 percent (Native American Housing grants). Altogether, poor communities would lose $4.3 billion to upgrade basic infrastructure like water and sewer lines, promote economic development, and build affordable housing for low-income residents.
Overall, HUD programs would lose $7.7 billion in 2018, compared to the likely final 2017 funding level, a 16 percent reduction. (HUD’s 2017 budget hasn’t yet been finalized, but it’s reasonable to presume that the final budget will be close to the average of the bills the House Appropriations Committee and the full Senate approved last summer.)
These cuts would come on top of the significant cuts that policymakers have already made in recent years under the austere Budget Control Act spending caps. As of 2016, total HUD housing and community development funding had already fallen $4.6 billion, or 8.7 percent, since 2010 (adjusted for inflation).
These cuts reflect the Administration’s skewed budget priorities. Non-defense discretionary spending, the budget category that funds most housing programs, as well as education, scientific research, environmental protection, and other key programs, is a small share of the federal budget and has already been cut to historically low levels in recent years. To thrive, families and communities need the essential assistance these HUD and other key programs provide. Proposing to slash them is not only cruel — it’s counterproductive.