Yesterday, President Bush released the Administration’s fiscal year 2008 budget proposal, which sought increases for homeless assistance funding, but significant cuts to mainstream housing and service programs. The Presidents budget proposes increasing funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) homeless assistance programs by $144 million to $1.586 billion. Twenty-five million of that increase would be transferred to the Department of Labor for a prisoner reentry initiative.
Under the budget proposal, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program would rise by approximately one half of one percent or about $80 million. This is several hundred million dollars less than would be needed to keep the program operating at its existing level and would necessitate cuts to the program. The Project Based Rental Assistance Program, which funds about 1.2 million project based subsidies, would be cut by $163 million. In addition, the Administration proposed cutting Public Housing funding by nearly $400 million.
CDBG would be cut by $736 million. Other HUD programs (Rural Housing and Economic Development, Empowerment Zones, and Brownfields, Section 108 Loan Guarantees) would be eliminated. HOME, which funds rental and homeownership housing, would increase by $210 million. Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) would be cut by $160 million. Housing for People with Disabilities (Section 811) would be cut by $112 million. Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) would rise by $14 million.
In addition to HUD programs, the Department of Health and Human Services has healthcare programs that are focused toward homeless people and/or people with extremely low incomes. These programs also play a key component in ending homelessness because homeless people suffer from high rates of mental and physical heath issues exacerbated by living on the streets or in shelters.
The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which funds job training and other services in low-income communities, would be eliminated. CSBG funded community action agencies provide many services to homeless people. Last year, CSBG received $630 million. The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) would be cut by $500 million to $1.2 billion. Community Health Centers would be cut by $44 million to $1.944 billion. Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs would be cut by $5 million to $2.133 billion.
Several programs, including Education for Homeless Children and Youth, Runaway and Homeless Youth programs, and Projects to Assist in the Transition from Homelessness (PATH), would receive the same amount of funding as in 2007. Under the proposed budget, Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Health Care for the Homeless, and Gants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals/Treatment for Homeless would receive decreases in funding.