off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Sequestration Threatens to Cut Rental Assistance to 140,000 Families

The sequestration budget cuts will likely force state and local housing agencies to cut the number of low-income families using Housing Choice Vouchers to afford housing by roughly 140,000 by early 2014, as we explain in a new paper.  This represents a sharp break from Congress’ bipartisan commitment — which it has met for most of the voucher program’s nearly 40-year history — to renew assistance for at least the same number of families from year to year.  Meanwhile, thousands of other low-income families using vouchers could face sharp rent increases.
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These cuts, which housing agencies have already begun to implement, will fall heavily on vulnerable people:
  • In Los Angeles, hundreds of families at the top of the waiting list will not receive vouchers, the city housing authority may soon raise rents for 45,000 low-income families by $100 - $200 per month, and, by October, the county housing authority may terminate as many as 1,800 vouchers;
  • The city of Marlborough, Massachusetts, expects to increase rent by an average of 45 percent for Section 8 voucher recipients; and
  • In Muskogee, Oklahoma, the housing authority lacks the funds to issue more vouchers — which means that 45 fewer families will be assisted this year — and it may be forced to cut the vouchers of some families that are now using them.
The cuts come at a time when the number of low-income families that need housing assistance has been rising substantially, there are long waiting lists for vouchers in almost every community, and homelessness remains a persistent problem. Overall, sequestration will cut more than $2 billion in 2013 from the housing assistance and community-development programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  While cuts in housing vouchers and homeless assistance will probably affect low-income families the most in the near term, sequestration will also contribute to further losses of public housing, impede the development of affordable housing for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, cause more low-income children to be exposed to lead-based paint in older rental housing, and cut counseling services for families at risk of foreclosure. Click here to read the full paper.