Senior Director for Housing Policy and Research
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal to consolidate 11 safety net and related programs, including the four largest federal rental assistance programs, into a single block grant to states risks significant funding cuts to housing assistance that helps 4.7 million low-income families, as we explained last week. Today, we’ll describe how the combination of those cuts, and the possible elimination under Ryan’s plan of program rules that ensure housing stability and affordable rents, could undercut rental assistance programs’ effectiveness and put substantial numbers of vulnerable families at risk for homelessness.
Federal rental assistance programs are effective. They sharply reduce housing instability and homelessness and lift 2.8 million people out of poverty (with the bulk of these impacts coming from the programs included in the Ryan plan). These effects, in turn, are linked to educational, developmental, and health benefits that can improve children’s long-term life chances.
But Chairman Ryan’s proposal, which would give states broad latitude in spending block grant funds, could enable states to jettison federal rules that are essential to the rental assistance programs’ success, or even to eliminate one or more programs. The drops in funding that likely would occur over time would increase the risks that states would make damaging changes to housing assistance programs. The following actions are among those states could take: