Wednesday, March 5, 2014

President’s budget shows sequestration’s constraints mean housing advocates must unite

by Liza Getsinger, National Housing Conference

The unveiling of the President’s FY 2015 budget request yesterday offered few surprises, in what have been several tough budget years for discretionary spending programs. The budget, which provides $46.7 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, adheres to the FY 2015 spending levels agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act. Yesterday in his address to stakeholders, Secretary Donovan highlighted the devastating effects sequestration cuts have had on housing programs and the tremendous efforts of housing assistance providers to buffer tenants from harm whenever possible. 

With roughly 84 percent of HUD’s budget going to renew existing housing assistance, the increasingly constrained budget environment forces HUD and the administration to make tough calls with the remaining program funding. The FY 2015 HUD budget restores all vouchers lost because of sequestration cuts, but overall funding levels provide little flexibility for expansions in other areas. The proposed cuts for FY 2015 fell hardest on the HOME and CDBG programs, and HUD is looking for some programmatic changes in order to provide more predictable funding for Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts. 

In this tough budget environment, is it hard to resist the temptation to advocate for individual pieces of the pie, but, like Sec. Donovan said yesterday, our voices are more effective when asking instead for a larger pie. This is why NHC, through the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, is launching its 302(b) sign-on letter for FY 2015. The 302(b) allocation sets the THUD spending cap, and a higher cap means increased investments in essential housing and community development programs. We encourage you to add your organization to the letter, and to please share widely with your networks. The deadline to sign is March 12.

You can view a copy of the letter here, and sign on to the letter on this page.

A budget summary chart of selected HUD and USDA housing and community development programs can be found here.

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