Thursday, October 18, 2012

Housing advocates brief Hill staff on the impact of further cuts to housing programs

by Sarah Jawaid, National Housing Conference

The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding and the National Housing Trust held two briefings for Congressional staff today on the effects of sequestration on housing and community development programs. Doug Rice, Senior Policy Analyst of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provided an overview of the disproportionate cuts that have already hit housing and community development programs over the last two years. He added that further cuts through sequestration would hurt the most vulnerable communities in need of rental assistance.

The administration estimated in Sept. 2012 that sequestration would cause "over a quarter million families—close to a million people, more than half of whom are elderly or disabled—[to] lose their housing vouchers and risk homelessness." The administration also said 100,000 families who receive homeless assistance grants would lose them, including 1,500 veterans and their families. Added cuts to HUD's budget would prevent 80,000 struggling homeowners from seeing a housing counselor and 53,000 jobs would be lost. Rice added that while the possibility of sequestration is a bad idea, replacing it with a deficit reducing mechanism that cuts deeper into non-defense discretionary programs like essential housing assistance would be worse.

Other speakers included:
  • Bill Faith, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio who talked about the impact of cuts to programs in Ohio when local communities are already struggling to keep people housed;
  • Hilary Saunders, Board Member of New York State Tenants and Neighbors who spoke about the importance of housing programs more generally in his role as a tenant advocate;
  • Regina Mitchell, Executive Director of the College Park, MD Housing Authority and Diane Sterner, Executive Director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey who spoke about the direct impact cuts in housing and community development programs have in their respective communities.
A similar briefing on the House side took place in the afternoon.

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