Congress Needs to Do Better to Help Low-Income
Families Keep a Roof Over Their Heads
Writes Sard, the House Appropriations Committee’s 2015 spending bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cuts funding for rental assistance and anti-homelessness programs by $580 million below this year’s level, despite rising housing affordability problems.
Here are a few major problems with the bill:
- Likely provides too little money to renew all of the Housing Choice Vouchers that low-income families will use this year. The bill’s $328 million funding increase to renew existing vouchers would only cover the cost of new vouchers that Congress funded in 2014 for homeless veterans and families that recently lost other housing assistance.
- Stalls recent progress on reducing homelessness. The bill funds homeless assistance at $2.1 billion, the same level as in 2014 and $300 million below the President’s request. Homeless assistance grants have contributed to a significant drop in the number of people with serious disabilities experiencing long-term homelessness, and the President’s budget would make further progress toward eliminating chronic homelessness.
- Reduces funding for new affordable housing. The bill cuts funding for the HOME block grant, which helps rehabilitate or construct rental properties and assist low-income homeowners, by $300 million below the 2014 level.
“In fairness to the House committee, it’s working under spending limits for non-defense discretionary programs that are too tight. (Adding to the problem, the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the 2015 receipts for the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage insurance program — receipts that can offset program spending — are much lower than the Office of Management and Budget’s estimate.) But Congress needs to overcome these accounting problems and do better to help low-income families keep a roof over their heads.”
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