BEYOND THE NUMBERS
With the number of households struggling to pay rent near historic highs, and federal rent aid reaching only 1 in 4 eligible households, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2018 budget should provide federal rent aid to at least the same number of households next year as it’s providing this year. The Senate and House 2018 HUD funding bills, however, would fall short, our updated analysis of Housing Choice Voucher program costs shows — the Senate bill would leave vouchers for an estimated 40,000 households without renewal funds next year, while the House bill would leave an estimated 120,000 without the funds.
Housing vouchers help 2.2 million households — including seniors, peoples with disabilities, and families with children in nearly every community — afford a decent home of their choice, lift families out of poverty, and reduce homelessness and housing insecurity. Vouchers can also improve children’s chances of becoming successful, productive adults: one rigorous study shows that children in families that use vouchers to move to safe, lower-poverty communities are likelier to attend college and earn more as young adults, and are less likely to become single parents, than their peers in families that don’t receive vouchers.
To their credit, the Senate and House rejected the severe housing aid cuts that President Trump proposed in his 2018 budget. Both chambers’ bills also prioritize crucial rental assistance programs for funding within very tight budgets overall, including by boosting funding to renew housing vouchers. But the bills’ added resources won’t be enough to keep pace with rising rents in the private market and also cover an increase in the number of vouchers requiring renewal. (Of that voucher increase, for example, the President and Congress funded new vouchers for homeless veterans in 2016 and HUD awarded roughly 18,000 new vouchers last year to preserve public housing under the Rental Assistance Demonstration program.)
Taking rising rents and other factors into account, we estimate that $19.72 billion in renewal funds are needed in 2018 to prevent cuts in the number of households using vouchers — $345 million and $1 billion more, respectively, than the Senate and House bills would provide. The table below shows the estimated effects of these shortfalls in every state.
The House and Senate have begun to negotiate a final 2018 budget for HUD and other federal agencies ahead of a funding expiration in early December. One goal of these negotiations should be to provide sufficient funds to prevent cuts in the number of households using housing vouchers, and to help more families, seniors, and people with disabilities pay the rent and make ends meet.
|Estimated Impact of Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Bills on the Number of Households Using Housing Vouchers, by State|
|State||Number of households using housing vouchers, 2017||Housing vouchers left unfunded under Senate bill, 2018||Housing vouchers left unfunded under House bill, 2018|
|District of Columbia||11,408||-205||-605|
Source: CBPP analysis of Department of Housing and Urban Development data.
Note: Voucher usage data for 2017 are the January to June average. The totals includes U.S. territories.