The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)’s new chart book reveals in pictures a disturbing pattern of neglect by policymakers that’s increased hardship for low-income families and hampered communities’ efforts to reduce homelessness.
Rising rents and stagnant wages are making it harder for families to keep a roof over their heads.
The chart book highlights that:
Six years of budget austerity have weakened housing assistance programs.
Budget caps have worsened a pattern of neglect.
Rental affordability problems have worsened as rental assistance expansion has slowed.
Housing assistance funding could fall to lowest level in 40 years.
“The number of families using Housing Choice Vouchers has also fallen sharply: some 45,000 fewer families were using vouchers in December 2015, compared to the end of 2012, due to the funding cuts.”
A six-year decrease has been largely driven by rigid caps on non-defense discretionary programs that policymakers enacted as part of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. The cuts followed a longer pattern of disinvestment that began in the mid-1990s. And the incomes of renters has not kept up with rising housing costs.
The chart book makes the case that:
“To avoid these choices policymakers must raise the BCA caps and expand rental assistance for low-income families. In addition to increasing funding for housing vouchers and other current programs, policymakers should explore innovative approaches to assisting families via tax credits and other avenues outside the discretionary budget.”
“It’s gospel by now that incomes haven’t increased to keep pace with the cost of rents. And it should be noted that the economy has steadily improved since 2011. But the gap between incomes and rents remains sizeable.”