off the charts

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.


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.