Gap Between Housing Costs and Wages Widens Making HUD Housing and LIHTC Funding Critical
On October 26, 2017, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing considering the nominations of:
- Brian D. Montgomery to serve as assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),
- Robert Hunter Kurtz to serve as the assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing (PIH), and
- Suzanne Israel Tufts to serve as assistant secretary for administration.
Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) used his opening remarks to discuss the affordable housing crisis and the importance of HUD programs. “The gap between housing costs and wages has grown wider over the past decade,” Senator Brown said. “Over half a million Americans face homelessness on any given night. A quarter of all renters pay more than half of their incomes towards rent. That makes the [nominees’] job and the job of HUD even more essential.”
Several members of the committee asked Mr. Kurtz about how the deep budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration would impact HUD’s ability to serve those currently receiving or in need of assistance.
Senator Brown pointed out that such cuts undermine public-private partnerships-the very thing HUD Secretary Carson has said is the answer to solving our nation’s housing crisis.
Senator John Tester (D-MT) said that there was not enough affordable housing in his state, which impacts the ability of communities to recruit new business. He added that new affordable homes would not be built if not for federal support through programs like the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)-programs the Trump administration proposes to eliminate. He asked the nominees to push back hard on the proposed cuts.
Mr. Kurtz responded that the Trump budget proposal was the administration’s first attempt to start a conversation around reforming public housing to make the program sustainable in the long run. He said his experience working for the City of Detroit taught him that people need to be creative in finding other resources at the state and local level to make up for cuts to federal spending.
The nominees also voiced support for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, with Mr. Montgomery pointing to the program’s bipartisan support, and for legislation introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Orin Hatch (R-UT) to expand the program.